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The sock entrepreneur with Down's syndrome

The sock entrepreneur with Down's syndrome
From BBC - January 12, 2018

"Pull up your socks" is not just a phrase to John Cronin. It's been the key to his entrepreneurial success.

Back in 2016, the 21-year-old told his dad, Mark, that he wanted them to start a business when he graduated from high school, but he was not sure what kind.

"My first suggestion was a fun store, but we did not know what to sell," says John, a native of New York's Long Island.

Next he considered a food truck, but there was one problem: "We really ca not cook!" jokes Mark.

Colourful socks

Eventually, they settled on an idea.

"John had worn crazy and colourful socks his whole life, so it was something he loved and he suggested we should sell socks," says Mark.

"Socks are fun and creative and colourful, and they let me be me," says John, who has Down's syndrome.

And with that, John's Crazy Socks was born.

A year on, they say they have made $1.4m (1.03m) in revenue, raised $30,000 for charity, and shipped socks to customers including Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former US President, George HW Bush.

'Thank you' notes

The online store has around 1,400 different kinds of socks, featuring everything from cats and dogs to barbeques to Donald Trump.

Each order is shipped the same day with a pack of sweets and a hand-written 'thank you' note, and John will deliver them himself if you live nearby.

As the face of the business, John also attends trade events, speaks with customers and suppliers, and comes up with initiatives like their "Monday madness mystery bag" and "Sock of the month" club.

Mark deals with the technical aspects of running their business.

"John really is an inspiration," says Mark, adding that he never gets any special treatment.

"He works very hard in this business. We are usually in the office before 9am and frequently do not leave until after eight at night."

In just over a year, the pair have shipped over 30,000 orders.

They donate 5% of all profits to the Special Olympics, which holds sports events for people with learning disabilities. John competes in the games in sports such as basketball, soccer and hockey.

He also designs "awareness socks" to raise money for charities including the National Down Syndrome Society and the Autism Society of America.

'Spreading happiness'

"We have a social mission and a retail mission, and they are indivisible," says Mark.

"I do not think it's enough anymore to just produce a service or produce a product. I think there has to be values attached to that, and we have a model that's showing that."

"What we are doing is spreading happiness," adds John.

The company wants to get more disabled people into work, and nearly a third of its staff have a disability.

"We are working to show what people with disabilities and learning disabilities can do," says Mark.

'It's been a joyride'

'Perfect partner'

Giving opportunity

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