MELVILLE, New York – John Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome from the northeastern United States, is living out his dream as co-owner of a business that sells brightly colored, themed socks and which aims to spread a message of happiness through its products.
John’s Crazy Socks is the name of the small enterprise that Cronin, 23, founded two years ago with his 60-year-old father Mark Cronin in the small town of Melville, New York, located on Long Island about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from New York City.
Inside the bustling, small warehouse, workers receive orders from customers, find the desired pair of socks, package them along with a thank-you note and some candy and ship them out.
In remarks to EFE on Tuesday, Mark said they expected to send between 250 and 300 pairs of socks that day, while a total of 244,000 orders were processed all of last year.
Mark said that his son had suggested that the two of them work together when he was on the verge of graduating from high school. The two of them brainstormed several possibilities, including starting a food-truck business.
Finally, John came up with the idea of selling “crazy socks” because he had always liked wearing socks with bright colors and patterns since he was a young boy.
Much has changed since the business was launched on Dec. 9, 2016, when the Cronins started a Facebook page featuring several videos of John promoting his products.
At the outset, John’s Crazy Socks received roughly 450 orders per month, mainly from family and friends. Customer service has been priority No. 1 from the beginning, with John initially personally delivering the sock boxes to people’s homes on Long Island.
Mark said those numbers seemed big at the time but that he and his son were also getting their heads around two important things: one, that people wanted to buy socks, and two, that people wanted to buy socks from John.
E-mails and letters poured in from people who said they saw John as a source of inspiration, he said.
Kriste Dembriski, who works in the company’s development and marketing department, told EFE that John’s Crazy Socks had only 150 Facebook followers when she began working there a year ago but that that number has since risen to 200,000.
She said that she and John make new videos every day and that he will remind her that it is time to record one if she forgets.
Like the other employees, Dembriski said the atmosphere at the company, which says its mission is to “spread happiness through socks,” ensures that the work is never boring.
Five percent of the company’s profits are donated to the Special Olympics, a sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. John, for his part, also is an athlete who has won several medals in Special Olympics competitions.
The company sells socks featuring roughly 2,300 different prints, on its Web site, including those of famous paintings, dinosaurs, superheroes, Day of the Dead symbols and faces of famous people such as Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
John’s Crazy Socks, whose products are sourced from other manufacturers, provides employment to 39 people, 23 of whom are individuals with “differing abilities,” Mark says.
Elissa Bronchick, one of the workers with disabilities whose responsibilities include taking orders, training other employees and wrapping the packages, told EFE that her favorite socks have a print of Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
The company founders, meanwhile, point to socks inspired by John’s own designs, including the 21 (heart symbol) 3 sock, a reference to the date of World Down Syndrome Day, and the Down syndrome superhero sock that John wears with pride.
According to the WDSD’s Web site, that date was chosen to “signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.”
The characteristics of this condition, in which individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46, include eyes that slant upward, a small nose with a broad flat bridge, low muscle tone and developmental delay.