Using Your Business to Spread Happiness

In this episode of The Faces of Business, we feature the dynamic father-son duo, Mark X. Cronin & John Cronin, from John’s Crazy Socks. They’re not just business partners but pioneers in merging e-commerce with a profound social mission.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, we feature the dynamic father-son duo, Mark X. Cronin & John Cronin, from John’s Crazy Socks. They’re not just business partners but pioneers in merging e-commerce with a profound social mission.

Mark & John’s story, beginning in 2016, from John’s high school dreams to running a thriving online business, embodies inspiration, hope, and the power of inclusivity. Their idea was simple yet revolutionary: selling socks as a statement of individuality and joy. But the business is not just about socks; it’s about making a difference. Their commitment to employing people with differing abilities and their contributions to charities, including the Special Olympics, make them standout figures in social enterprise while becoming the world’s largest sock store and an international sensation.

Mark & John Cronin are more than just entrepreneurs; they are champions for change. They represent what’s possible when business goals align with social values. Their approach to business offers valuable lessons for any business owner or executive looking to make a real difference.

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Damon is super excited to host Mark and John. He asks them to talk about their business model. Mark explains that John’s Crazy Socks operates on a unique business model as a social enterprise with social and business missions that complement each other.

Damon expresses interest in hearing their origin story. Mark begins recounting their journey, taking the audience back to the fall of 2016, describing a small log cabin in the woods in suburban Long Island near New York City, specifically in Huntington.

Mark reveals that his son John has Down syndrome. He discusses a critical aspect of the education system for individuals with disabilities, explaining that they can stay in the public school system until they graduate or turn 21 across the US. John, approaching age 21, faced the challenge of transitioning out of the school system, commonly known as the “21-year-old cliff.” He talks about the difficulty of finding meaningful employment and the limited effectiveness of some programs.

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Despite these challenges, Mark introduces John as a natural entrepreneur with the spirit that led to the creation of John’s Crazy Socks. John had his eureka moment when he watched a movie about a father-son duo selling items on a food truck.

“I wanted to make one,” says John, “I told my dad.” He explains the choice of socks for their business, mentioning the fun, colorful, and creative nature of socks that allow people to express themselves. He shares his affinity for unique and crazy socks, saying he always wants to be himself and embrace a lively, vibrant lifestyle.

Mark then adds to the story, relating that when John showed Dr. Brown a particular pair of socks and received a positive reaction, they decided to share the idea with others to find like-minded individuals. They opted for the Lean Startup approach instead of following conventional business practices with extensive planning. The focus was on getting the business up and running quickly, with the belief that customer feedback would shape its direction. The name “John’s Crazy Socks” had already been chosen.

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While talking about their business success, Mark discloses their surprise at the overwhelming response to John’s Crazy Socks, receiving what felt like a flood of orders—42 on the first day alone.

By the end of the first month, they had shipped 452 orders, and Mark expresses their realization that they had something promising. Despite uncertainties about the business’s growth, they recognized its potential. John interjects to mention that, after a little more than seven years, they have a vast collection of socks, more than anyone else.

Damon acknowledges the incredible achievements of John’s Crazy Socks, highlighting the impressive stats, such as being the world’s largest sock store and creating 24 jobs (with 22 for people with differing abilities).
The host then turns the conversation to John, asking about his favorite part of the business today.

John shares his favorite aspects of the business with Damon. He mentions enjoying his role as a “fan page” and making videos, particularly on TikTok. John also loves engaging with his audience daily on TikTok. He mentions recording a podcast, discussing recent experiences in Nashville, designing socks, participating in meetings, and expressing a strong affinity for intrapreneurship. John appreciates the various facets of his involvement in the business, from creative endeavors to collaborative efforts.

Mark recounts a recent visit from a congressman, appreciating their commitment to giving back, including a check delivery reminiscent of Ed McMahon. The goal is to spread happiness through their unique approach to selling socks.

Mark reflects on their role as leaders of the organization. He says they built the business on five pillars:
1) a meaningful mission
2) making employees proud
3) ensuring their success
4) recognizing their efforts
5) and staying out of their way to let them excel

Mark underlines the personal touch in their business, from recognizing individual contributions to incorporating feedback and creating a unique experience for customers by adding lollipops and personal touches to packaging. He mentions specific adaptations based on customer feedback, such as sending sugar-free candy with diabetic socks.

Mark reiterates their commitment to customer service, guaranteeing happiness, and caring for customers, even when they may be wrong. He concludes by stressing the importance of delivering quality products and services, including a great website, an extensive selection, and efficient shipping.

Moreover, Mark credits the existence of John’s Crazy Socks to the Special Olympics, expressing their deep connection to the organization. He mentions actively participating in coaching for the Special Olympics and how this involvement inspired them to create products that raise awareness and funds for various causes. Mark provides an example of their product creation process, citing the Down Syndrome Awareness socks. He reflects on their learning curve, realizing that people at the National Down Syndrome Society celebrate World Down Syndrome Day by wearing crazy socks, influencing their product development.

Despite their extensive efforts and accomplishments, Damon commends Mark and John for their humility.

Mark expresses gratitude for his enduring marriage of 42 years and acknowledges the occasional challenges. He shares instances where his wife, whom he refers to as his bride, supports him by looking out for the family and handling customer inquiries, referring to it as customer response.

“What’s on the horizon for you guys?” asks Damon
Mark discusses the pressure to grow and reach more people, mentioning that they sell directly to consumers. They have expanded to sell through other channels, including custom socks for businesses and a welcome kit program for membership organizations. They have introduced charity fundraising programs for nonprofits and are entering the wholesale channel to sell in retail stores.

Toward the end, Damon thanks his guests for their time and concludes the show.

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49:45
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
socks, john, people, down syndrome, work, customers, orders, day, business, give, abilities, spread, talk, jobs, great, call, national down syndrome, organization, share, food truck
SPEAKERS
Mark Cronin, John Cronin, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the phases of business. And I have to tell you, that this may be the special episode that I the most special episode I’ve ever had. Because today, we’re going to be talking about using your business to spread happiness. And I have none other than John and Mark Cronin from John’s crazy socks. Welcome, gentlemen.

John Cronin 00:35
Wow, dammit taking some summer. I haven’t on your podcast. Thank you very much. We are very appreciative.

Mark Cronin 00:44
We are glad to be here.

John Cronin 00:45
Yeah, that is

Damon Pistulka 00:46
awesome, man. Because I tell you what, I am just incredibly excited to talk to you guys today about how you got into business. What’s what you’re having fun doing? And just some of the things that you guys at John’s crazy socks are doing there? So let’s get started.

John Cronin 01:07
Okay, let’s do it.

Damon Pistulka 01:09
All right. So for the people out there that don’t know you guys, tell us about, you know, where are you from and how you got into crazy socks?

Mark Cronin 01:19
Well, you want to introduce us.

John Cronin 01:22
And us. My name is Sean. If my dad, my father, Mark, we are John figure sock. And we have a mission called spreading happiness. So

Mark Cronin 01:36
we we have a totally different type of business model. We’re a social enterprise. So we have both a social and a business mission. And they feed off of each other. But you want to share how we got started? Yeah, I was gonna say origin stories matter. Right? Yeah. Give us your DNA. Yeah. So I was story. Going to go back to the fall of 2016. To a small log cabin in the woods, yo. You come to suburban Long Island, outside New York City in a town called Huntington. And where were you?

John Cronin 02:17
I was at paintin has to agape molasses school. Now,

Mark Cronin 02:23
something we should make sure people know. Yes, among many things. John, you also happen to have Down Syndrome

John Cronin 02:31
you did you. I have downloads from Donald Trump, I never hold me back.

Mark Cronin 02:41
So, but here’s something Daymond to know, if you have a disability, you can stay in the public school system until you either graduate or turn 21. And that’s anywhere in the US. So John was gonna it was 20 at the time was going to be turning 21 was going to be the last year of school. Right? And they were gonna say we’ve had an eye Get out, get out. And actually, this is this is a big moment. Because when you’re in school, everything is right there in front of you. You repeat support. And for many people get their meals in school. It’s dangerous. It’s frequently known as the 21 year old cliff. Because once you go over that cliff, you’re on your own. In some states, Washington is one of them New York, there are lots of services, but in other states, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, there’s nothing. And even when there are services, you got to figure that out. So John, you’re in your last year of school, you did try to figure out Yeah, I think what am I going to do next? So what were you looking at?

John Cronin 03:53
I look I chop? Talk to them and thought I said fine. I don’t like

Mark Cronin 04:01
didn’t say any like, they’re trying to work with me before they did. And this is an unfortunate reality. There just aren’t enough good options for people with different abilities. The unemployment rate is double the national average. But that doesn’t tell the real story. Yeah. One in five people with a disability is employed. Yeah, maybe those programs from well meaning they offer in essence daycare will keep you busy. But John here, John is a natural entrepreneur.

John Cronin 04:32
Yeah.

Mark Cronin 04:34
You he sees a problem and turns that into an opportunity. So you didn’t see your job you wanted would you say?

John Cronin 04:42
I said I want to trade one. I want to make one. I told my dad I was out at peace with him. i Nice. Father is done being together.

Damon Pistulka 04:53
Yeah. So cool. Yeah, he I’ve

Mark Cronin 04:57
got three sons. And this is what I like. work.

John Cronin 05:00
Yeah.

Mark Cronin 05:02
So, okay, we’re we’re gonna go into business together. Now we have to come up with a business. Your work, you know, your audience out there when entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs always have ideas. They’re not always good ideas, but they have a lot of ideas. True, John? Yeah. I found out smoke coming out of here is what was one of your ideas for Wilden

John Cronin 05:27
it and food fuck, I’ll cover idea from the movie call chef, a white actor, and Jungfrau it a neat movie about a father and son by barging a food truck.

Mark Cronin 05:45
So food trucks seemed like a fun idea. I mean, people you bought your food truck. And we’re thinking what could we make? Where would we put it? I love I thought, Yes, you do. But we ran into a problem with Hickok. Yeah. wasn’t going to be a food truck. But then, just before the US Thanksgiving, John had his eureka moment.

John Cronin 06:12
He did. Raise your socks. Why socks? It’s fun. It’s colorful. It’s creative. I always need be me. I want crazy stuff for life. Which which was our last one of those socks?

Mark Cronin 06:32
With Dr. Brown looking for me? Yeah, what we figured if John liked them that much, show the other people and we could find our tribe. So at this point, the typical thing to do is stop everything and prepare a business. Don’t a lot of those and evaluated them. You know, you do your market research, competitive analysis, your your operational plan your financial forecast. That’s not what we did. Yep, we went the Lean Startup route. We said we’ll get something up and running. Just get it up. Right. And customers will let us know. So you already had a name.

John Cronin 07:14
I got a name. I call update. I cover ideas.

Mark Cronin 07:18
Write the name. You’ll notice everything is named John. Yeah. Anywhere. So we built a simple web website we built on the Shopify platform had a little bit of inventory. We were bootstrapping. Right so you got to where you have we once got asked by a student what exactly does bootstrapping mean? It means you have no money? Yeah, yeah, you gotta make do with what you have. So we we marketing we did we set up a Facebook page, and I would take out my cell phone. And we made videos and who do you think was in those videos? Dad

John Cronin 07:57
and dad but my test night is dark stocks a more sad

Mark Cronin 08:08
and we noticed some people started sharing those videos.

John Cronin 08:13
We open we open a Friday. The stabber night.

Mark Cronin 08:22
We didn’t know what to expect. We got what felt like a flood of orders. We got 42 orders that first day. Marshall and one vocal which made sense. To turn on Huntington is is in high school. We have a temporary office space there. So how did we deliver those first orders? Oh,

John Cronin 08:41
Hi, I’m Jenna freeze, which you may Paksas in a physical box. I put it in our sock in the box. I put it in my planner like taking you out. Every pack is and you’re playing Candy attack. Other kids are older chocolate. We

Mark Cronin 09:02
loaded up the car and drove around. And John knocked on doors deliverance. Yes, I did have the customers respond. I’ve

John Cronin 09:09
kind of refined their love to socks. With me. Take a picture with a customer and their backer stock will be different back and share on social media. Would I get a spread?

Mark Cronin 09:26
We had customers ordering again. Just to get John to come back to the airport. Yes. Families were waiting to take pictures. Yes. No, we’re from some funny moments, right. Just the two of us. Yeah, two nights after 10 o’clock at night. And yeah, and it’s still Yeah, yes. John, would you say to me oh, you know, it’s so at the end of that month, really two weeks. We had shipped 452 orders. And we knew we had something. Yeah, hoping it would grow. We didn’t know how fast it would grow. But we knew we had a Business Week. Today, where we had so little, we’re a little more than seven years old. How many different socks do we have?

John Cronin 10:13
We have a 4000. designs out, which we mean. I am a I own. Our own the world’s largest stock door. We

Mark Cronin 10:27
have more socks. Anybody else? We’re not out selling? Or getting released? Not yet. No. But we’ve been able to create 34 jobs. Yeah, what those are helped by people with different abilities. We’ve now shipped about 450,000 orders to 88 different countries. We’ve raised over $700,000 for our charity partner yet, back we delivered. You delivered a check this afternoon. Yeah. As you’d like to say, as

John Cronin 11:03
it should get STI is getting started. That’s right. Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 11:07
Yeah. You know, that’s incredible, guys. Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. 450,000 orders, world’s largest sock store. 24 jobs created for people with every third 34 total, but 24 with differing abilities, and that people have different abilities. 22 Okay. It’s, it’s $700,000 to charity. I mean, and going, right? You guys have such a story. It’s incredible. It’s incredible. And and to you start out with it, you got a social enterprise, which really, just you can just feel it coming through the organization, and you guys are doing good on many levels for the people that work there. The people in the community just talking about how you guys were out delivering socks, and everything. Wow. So what is your favorite part of the business today, John?

John Cronin 12:11
my fanpage my job. I like your videos. I like to tick tock. I love that daily on tick tock. That time I just have I have pick orders. That’s how I get rapping. And I really do. I record as being a guest meant we’ve just come back from Nashville. And I like to design socks. I like to do a podcast or pizza with you. And I like to have meetings. I like I really like what Raj and I have been like, I intrapreneur ah, tickets a conference out.

Mark Cronin 13:01
Here good see, Damon, you know, not good. Picking one thing

Damon Pistulka 13:06
at all. That’s awesome.

Mark Cronin 13:08
Was it two weeks ago? We had an early morning speaking engaged. Yes. John is preparing for the day. When he does that, and he’s looking at his calendar, and he’s going through things. And he just looks at me and he says, Dad, I love entrepreneur had you and he’s looking this is we’re starting at eight in the morning. And I’m not going to get home till nine o’clock at night. And I love it.

John Cronin 13:37
I do I love it. That’s

Damon Pistulka 13:39
so great, guys. Great. John. This is This is incredible. Get to talk to you guys because it makes my heart fair good to see that you guys are able to do what you’re passionate about John. Yes helped so many people by building the creating a company and generating the jobs and then spread the happiness like you guys are doing. Well, it’s

Mark Cronin 14:10
there’s nothing we do. That’s rocket science. It all seems pretty straightforward. I think every organization you have to know your purpose. If Simon Sinek calls it your why you do this? And for us. It’s really about spreading happiness. Right? Five. You say the keys down

John Cronin 14:32
I say the key is about as having is a try today, as you saw out there. It wasn’t a thing I would have

Mark Cronin 14:44
look fortunate we are absolutely you get to do what we do. You know Look we’re just looking at today. We get to be on your podcast. How cool was this

John Cronin 14:54
in air clay abotu

Mark Cronin 14:57
we had a congressman take time out of his day. Yeah, come visit us today. Wow, it is that, you know, we got to deliver a big check and update myself like Ed McMahon. Yeah, there’s Special Olympics, that, you know. And it’s, it seems, it seems almost trite. The more we can do for others, the better off we are. You know, it’s you have to know your purpose, you got to know what it’s about. And you really have to believe. So we know our purpose. We have our five pillars, you know, that we built the business on. And that differentiates us. You know, I told you before, we didn’t start by doing the business plan, we’ve gone out and done that analysis, it may surprise you. We’ve counted how many sock businesses there. There are exactly one gazillion sock companies. If all we’re doing is selling socks, what do we say? Or is it better than you will

John Cronin 16:08
and that’s math like you’re right. But ours,

Mark Cronin 16:11
we differentiate because of the store, because of the mission and the purpose. So you know, the value equation becomes, get some socks that you’re going to love. And you can express who you are with those socks, like you say, they let me be me. Gonna get great socks, we have over 30,005 star reviews. And you’re gonna get them right away. We do same day shipping. We do better shipping than Amazon and Jeff Bezos over and Amazon. He’s not putting a thank you think I can see, there you go. When you do that, you know, part of the experiences. You’re helping those employee people with different abilities. Yeah, hoping to skip back and raise money for the Special Olympics, the Autism Society of America, the National Down Syndrome Society. And at the end of the day, you’re helping us spread happiness. So when you put those socks on, they make you feel great.

Damon Pistulka 17:19
Yeah. That’s what we get to do. Well, I know it’s running a business. But boy, it’s got to be a lot of fun running the business. All right. We

John Cronin 17:33
get to have fun. Don’t wait. Yeah, we do. We had some fun. It’s great. I love

Mark Cronin 17:40
it. We work hard. Yeah, we get to say that. James Brown was the hardest working man in show. Non may be the hardest working man in sorry. There you go. Take that we get to go on adventures sometimes.

John Cronin 17:57
I haven’t yet. But also,

Mark Cronin 18:01
we get to live the dream. Yeah, we get to lead an organization and we believe we believe it should be led. And we have no excuses. Can’t blame it on the board can blame it on other people can’t blame it on headquarters, it’s down to us. You know, and an organization’s get to do that. And it comes back to what’s your purpose? What are you doing? What are your values? You know, the values are real, and they cost you money. So, we built it on five pillars? What are the five pillars I panna is,

John Cronin 18:39
is clear and hope. Give it back. Five ply if you can’t love, make it personal. And make it a great place to work. Make

Mark Cronin 18:52
it a great place to work, right? That was the last one we added because one was just the two of us. We didn’t have an icon. But if we’re going to spread happiness, we have to start at home we have to start with and that when we break down to five pieces, one, offer people a mission worthy of their commitment, something bigger than ourselves something that matters, we’re going to make a difference in the world. Are you something that you can be proud of? And it can’t just be we’re going to make money. Don’t get me wrong. We want to make money. We’d like to live indoors. Oh, we give it in a bed to make sure everybody knows why his or her job matters. There’s no cog in the machinery. Everybody is part of that mission. Three, put people in a position to succeed. Don’t ask them to do something they can’t do. We don’t ask them to do finance. Right.

John Cronin 19:57
I give a quick floor super great. All right.

Mark Cronin 20:00
You know, if Nick, our webmaster needs a particular tool, why don’t we get him that software? If Kenny or lead Packer wants a chair that makes it more comfortable during the day, get him that chair. Now, we’re a small business, we don’t have endless resources. But take care of. Yeah,

John Cronin 20:20
for I said, Thank

Mark Cronin 20:22
you, right? Recognize what people do. So Andrew Metro, who’s our Lord of the socks, he runs our warehouse, they’ve just completed an annual inventory that had an infant’s desperately small array. We call that out, make sure everybody knows, look what Andrew and his team do. Recognize, don’t you like you work hard and your podcast? You prep for it. We like it when someone comes to say to him, and it was really a great show. And then the last thing, stay the hell out of the way. Let people do their jobs. Yeah. Right. And so, you know, when we view it, as the CO leaders, can I say, I’m a co leader with you. As the cold leaders of the organization, it’s our job to set the direction, the tone and the culture. But we’re also at the bottom of the orchestra. And it’s our job to serve everybody else. And make sure they can do their jobs. And when you do that, everybody’s right, that’s making it personal. We’re not chasing transactions. We will we want to build relationships. We want to connect with our customers. And you believe that, then it’s like all of this. Yeah, you have to believe. But then it becomes manifest in everything you do. So to this day, what goes in everything else

John Cronin 22:03
I’ve had yet I get a big enough for me a personalized and you print it printing, printing taggi

Mark Cronin 22:10
impacted? We were changed. And when we started it was which everybody loved. Until we got the email from the woman in Florida. Oh, yeah. You may not want to send chocolates to the south. Yes. So now we put in lollipops. And on the packing slip, you see the picture in the name of the person who Pat, Your Honor. So when you guys package, you’re not just getting songs, you’re getting a little little experience a little dose of happiness. Yeah, you can keep working at that. So we sell socks for diabetics, these high compression socks? Well, one day one of our packers comes and says, you know, we sell these socks for diabetics. And then we send them candy. What’s wrong with this picture? So now we have a supply of sugar free candy that goes and we have a separate package that goes if we get an order from a military base, to goes there and says things, right? You know, it’s if you call our office, you’re not going to get voicemail. You’re going to talk to an actual human grips. We don’t record them. You’re going to happen. You’re going to have a conversation. We start with a two year guarantee. A two year guarantee on socks, whoever odd socks, right? Oh my goodness. But part of the issue is, you’ve heard the old line. The customer’s always right. Nonsense. The customer can be dead wrong. We’re not in the business of being right. We’re in the business of spreading happiness. We aren’t we? Yeah, your mom or my wife is mom. The Mama Bear works with us. She took a customer who was rated better we loved his socks that he got in our sock of the Month Club. And he got his one pair of three years ago loves it he goes but you know what I found today, I got a hold on my pair of socks. Okay, we sent him replacement chunks, three routes. And you know what? You take care of people like that. It remember that? A tell other people you know so it’ll first don’t disappoint. You got to deliver the goods. You know, and that gets into the third pillar of socks you can love you got to deliver the goods. We gotta have a good website where people can navigate and find what they want. Yep, you’re gonna have a good selection. We got a greatest selection anybody else you do? You’ve got to have great products, the service has to be great. We do that same day shipping, however, rate on shipping is less than point two of 1%.

Damon Pistulka 25:11
That’s awesome.

Mark Cronin 25:16
And three, get the liver on. You got to then look for ways to well in the leap. Yeah. The second pillar is given back. It’s not enough to just sell stuff. You’ve got to give back. And we don’t believe in the old patriarchal model where, okay, we see at the end of the year, if we have money left, and then I decide or John decides, we write a check. Now we do it upfront, make the commitment upfront. So now our customers become part of this. And it’s baked into everything we do. So we started by pledging 5% of our earnings

John Cronin 26:01
to as far as Paralympics

Mark Cronin 26:03
and why the Special

John Cronin 26:05
Olympics, I am a sprinter Olympic athletes, what sports? I played basketball field, stop got as nursin

Mark Cronin 26:16
Wow, I will tell you, if there was no Special Olympics, it’d be no John’s crazy socks. And a number of our colleagues are in it. I’m coaching in it, right? We get some coaching nice here. But then we’ve gone on to create products that raise awareness and celebrate causes and raise money for those causes. So the first example and then this is a good example of John’s thinking. Yeah, are the Down Syndrome Awareness socks. back to January of 2017. We’re just getting started. We’re learning firsthand. Nobody buys anything in January, because they spent all their money the holidays. Yeah, that’s when we discovered that people wear crazy socks to celebrate World Down Syndrome. You, you would have thought we knew that ahead of time. But we’re not that smart. And wins World Down Syndrome Day.

John Cronin 27:14
Why don’t some guy is a mild 25 I call two week coin. Why might a mod 25 as celebrate a word Daniel some day because

Mark Cronin 27:25
3/21 chromosomes is how you get there. So we go looking at that point, we only sold other people’s sites, we go looking for a Down Syndrome theme sock. Nobody made one.

John Cronin 27:40
I said I want one I want to make what I create. I create my own damage from a website

Mark Cronin 27:49
into so in the first Down Syndrome theme. So I pulled up the National Down Syndrome Society and said, Hey, we’re gonna give you money from every parent, we say, Oh,

John Cronin 27:58
who are you? Are you

Mark Cronin 28:04
to kind of show in shock? Yes. It’s pretty cool. Now. Yeah, we have a whole line of Down syndrome themed products, autism themed products. Join us now on the board of the National Down Syndrome Society. And next week, we’ll release. Well, batteries are available now. The official crazy SOC for this year’s World Down Syndrome. day that we made in concert with the National Down Syndrome Society, and Down Syndrome International, to beautiful design, designed by somebody with Down syndrome, we made a contest. Nice and the profits from that will go to those organizations. So we have that that’s part of our giving back. We donate boxes of socks for raffles and auctions. We sponsor an autism can do scholarship. Yeah, it’s open right now. It’s really three scholarships top price is $5,000. Very complicated. You have to design a pair of socks. You don’t have to be a graphic artist, just draw a drawing of what you think you’d love. None of the this is the sixth year we’re doing it. None of the previous winners were graphic designers. But the most important pillar is we want to show the world what people with different abilities can do. Yeah, start with my partner. Yeah, Dad. You’ve got Down syndrome. Yeah. We don’t put John in the back. We don’t hide. And he’s not just a figure. John works his tail. I did. You’re the face of the pitch that

John Cronin 29:48
I have up in the flight deck company, then

Mark Cronin 29:53
it’s hiring. Yeah. So more than half of our colleagues have a different a bit. But that’s not enough. I show the world so we create content all the time. We share Facebook page we got 20 40,000 Facebook

John Cronin 30:09
page. Wow. Wow. I love Tik Tok. I love dancing scripture

Mark Cronin 30:13
like 65,000 Yes. I don’t know what they’re doing with their life. We now hold an annual and other face of beauty, fashion and art show where all the models and artists and performers have a different ability. See when a show we host tours, we’ve had more than 2000 people come through our office, our facility. And then once we’ve got those virtual, we’ve had groups from around the world, you know, as we today yesterday, was in fact, we had a class from Vermont. But we’ve had classes from India from to Scotland to and all across the US. We host workgroups, small groups of students that come in from software service agencies or high schools once a week just to get some work experience. So we hit two groups in today and see other people like themselves who are working. It gives them encouragement on speaking engagements yet so Damon, we’re so grateful you have a sign. I am your audience. We traveled for that, you know, we will be in Washington. What’s the name of the town? I forget the town. In South Ruby, it’s in 10, of southeastern Washington. Closer to Portland.

John Cronin 31:49
Yeah, I think downtown. We spoke their lives

Mark Cronin 31:51
here. They want us to come back. We were in Nashville for a corporate event. And there’s been a lot of weather. So yeah, we had multiple flights canceled by multiple people, airports. And finally I called up my wife and I said, I’m gonna head home and pick us up at the airport, we’re hitting the road. And we drove to Nashville drove 15 hours, because we made it go speak. Awesome. And we do a lot of advocacy work. Yeah, we people will listen to us because of the business. And that creates an obligation. It creates an obligation to speak up. So today we had Congressman Nicole Lauder, a freshman member of Congress, come in. John gave him a tour. We say, Yeah, we shared what we do. But then we also have legislation we want to support and explain why we share. We often share an anecdote of one time. We were down in DC, where we were going up on Capitol Hill. And we got a call from a customer used to saying, you know, my mom works on Capitol Hill. And she’s a big fan of John’s, and she’d loved me jump in our call and said, Sure, here’s my cell phone number. Have you mother texts or contact information? Who was mom, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi.

33:22
Goodness.

Mark Cronin 33:25
Well, we’re in a bad way in this country. You know, too often now. If we disagree with you, we vilify you, we tear you. Yeah, we lose the sense of humanity. Well, I don’t care where you are in the political spectrum. Nancy Pelosi, among other things, is an 80 year old Italian grandmother. Yeah, we’re going to meet her and she’s warm and nice hugs drawn and takes out pictures of socks. And she gave the former President Bush Bush the elder because John had somewhat famously become sock buddies with a former president, and wonderful and great, but you see, now we have this opportunity. And it’s But Miss Pelosi, we do have to talk to you about repealing section 14 C of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. That allows employers to pay people with disability a sub minimum wage, so we have people in this country being paid as little as five cents an hour and it cannot stand because if we get that opportunity with the speaker Yep. And you roll all that up and you get John’s crazy socks. It’s which

Damon Pistulka 34:39
is pretty cool. Yeah, really is incredible, guys. Wow. This is just a masterclass in how you can take spreading happiness, a social mission, social enterprise, in really, really Live it, take it to heart. And not only create an enterprise from it, but create so much positive change around you. It’s it’s it just listen to your talk or listen to you guys talk for a long, long, long time. Just because I can feel the passion, the genuine honesty, and you you guys are out there doing it. It’s so cool. Well,

Mark Cronin 35:27
this is what businesses get to do. You’re a small business, you have 10 employees. It’s 10 employees, it’s 10 families, you’re affecting these people’s lives. Yeah, then you’re in their community. They’re spending that money in their community. And if you just if you connect the knit community, you’re trying to Chamber of Commerce work with a local charity, give back to somebody give some time to the, you know, to Habitat for Humanity, your everybody’s going to be better off. Yes, it’s going to, in the long run, you’re gonna get more business. You’re, you know, it’s, we all get to have this opportunity. And, you know, certainty before this, and what we do is no rocket science here. We were a couple of knuckleheads. So inside Yes, we are. But all we want to do is instead of, well, we know why not? Why not? Right? And if we can do this, imagine what smarter people with more resources can do.

Damon Pistulka 36:43
I think you guys, you guys are pretty humble because you’re doing an awful lot. And I think it’s because you’re taking it to heart and doing you know, you’re looking for opportunities to do more. And that’s the thing and every opportunity you know, you can you experienced this you talked about before we got on you talked about during this you know, the more you help others, the more these opportunities and these opportunities to help others and, and the business and everything flows together. And you guys are experiencing that firsthand. It’s so awesome.

Mark Cronin 37:14
Yeah, it’s just keep putting stuff out there. Yeah, you know we get to live it the way we want it to be. Yeah, we get to create a workplace the way we would dream a workplace should be Yep. Yep. And what’s

Damon Pistulka 37:43
the what you guys want to do is what you get to do, man, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, I do have to ask you know moms in the moms in the business so as mom keep you guys straight is that certain is that good cuz I mean, I can see you guys get like you guys get yourself in some trouble here once in a while. And well, actually,

Mark Cronin 38:02
John keeps a straight you know, we got a ying and yang thing going on. Yeah, try John likes rules and likes following order and gang. I’m gonna chaotic one. Okay. family business. That’s a whole nother conversation. Yeah. You know, my, my middle son has broken Jamie. And he’s left and and that was probably best. I mean, I love them dearly. We talk all the time. But yeah, we kept working together. You were gonna find his both in a pool the blood on the floor?

Damon Pistulka 38:35
Yeah, it just happens that wait, what’s wrong, and working

Mark Cronin 38:37
with my with my wife or my mom. We’ve been up and fortunate up and married my bride for 42 years. Incredible. But it can be tough, you know, but there are some times that, you know, we’ll be out someplace and shooters look at me and say, Please just leave it in the office. Or we’ll be home and we’ll be having dinner. And I’ll say, you know, sweetheart, could you just just vent about something that happened at work today? Sure. This is woman at work. You’re never gonna believe that she only eats you. But we’re incredibly lucky. You know, because she looks out, you know, looks out for us. And does, you know really special things and like cheap works, you know? And those are, I hate to call customer service. It’s customer response because everybody does customer service. And people would pretty cool when a people call and say, Do you ever get to see John and she’s like, well every night.

John Cronin 39:51
Yes. Yeah. I love I love to

Mark Cronin 39:54
see you walking around in his underwear. Yeah, yeah.

John Cronin 39:57
I love working with my mom and She picked her fall dancing, and I love her.

Damon Pistulka 40:04
That’s awesome. It’s awesome that you get to do that. It’s awesome. You guys get to do that. So I couldn’t end this without talking about something that you brought up briefly there, Mark. But we’ve got something that we need to talk about pretty seriously here, John, you’ve got a dance party that goes on. Yeah. And and so I watched a few of these dance parties, man. So who, who? Who came up with that dance party idea?

Mark Cronin 40:35
I think it was Louis, who had the idea? I think so. So here’s putting some context. And it’s why you have to know your purpose and your values. Yep. We had to 2020 we get hit with a pandemic? Who the hell plans on a pandemic? Yep. So what do you do? Well, the first thing is you got to take care of your people, you have to make sure everybody’s safe. We have a vulnerable population, both because some of our colleagues grip and elderly parents, like you live with elderly parents. And people, you know, people with Down syndrome, now more likely to get the virus, or if they do five times more likely to be hospitalized, more likely to die. So we have to be really careful and be careful. Then you look to see what can we adapt? So you move those tours online. You move speaking engagements online. It’s always better in person, but it opens up the world. We produced healthcare superhero sites, as a way to say thank you to frontline workers. Yeah, those those raise over $50,000. And then you ask, what else can we do that’s new and different? Well, it was something was obvious. We’ve made masks in our with our themes. But what’s our mission? At spray happiness? How do you spread happiness if everybody has walked down? So we did two things. We started a Facebook Live show, but the NBA just entertain people. We’re still doing it. Yeah. Again, I don’t you know, we tried to COVID We’d get 40,000 people in. Yeah. And John started a dance party. And it is so every Tuesday afternoon 3pm 3pm And you to the playlist. You do it all in your room now, right? Again, you set the camera up in the microphone. Yes. And you set the playlist and you play disc jockey and you dance.

John Cronin 42:40
Yeah, I was I was asked, Can you

Mark Cronin 42:44
sing? Oh, God, don’t start saying

Damon Pistulka 42:49
he’s gonna start singing now.

Mark Cronin 42:52
We, we don’t want to drive people away.

Damon Pistulka 42:57
Well, I had to, I had to ask, because I was watching the dance parties. And you would look at me now and believe this. But when I was young, they call me DJ Damon. Okay. And you and I, if I had my if I had my cup here, my kids actually have one of my cups. It says DJ Jay manaan. You will look me up on Spotify. It’s a DDA Damon. Okay. Now, yeah, so it’s I saw the dance party. And I just had to talk a little bit about John and because I think, you know, yes, we all love a good dance party. Yes, I think you’re some of your music man. You should put that onto a Spotify playlist so that people can follow your Spotify playlist. If you haven’t already. You can start sharing them. Yeah, yeah. Because you could get a ton of people following your playlist because your music is good. I love the music you guys are playing. So just throwing that idea out there. But I think that just shows your dance party shows the two of you your organization John, your guys creativity, and just your willingness and wanting to help so many people and share the good word and spread happiness like you guys are and man, it just makes me feel good to be able to talk with you guys today and share your story. I’m so happy that we can talk today. And if people want to buy I mean I just think if they haven’t figured it out by now they should go to John’s crazy socks and order a bunch of socks because they’re great socks like you said, Good guarantee all that great service look you’re gonna get you’re gonna get this lollipop in the box. You’re gonna get it No, you’re gonna know who who pack that box for you. And so many other great things. You guys, I just it’s just so I just feel the love coming from you guys in the happy In essence, you guys are spreading what? What’s on the horizon for you guys?

Mark Cronin 45:07
More, we feel a lot of pressure to grow to reach more people create more jobs. Right now, we we now sell through three channels we sell directly to consumers at John’s crazy socks.com. We sell for other businesses. So we make custom socks, we’ve now introduced a welcome kit program for membership organizations, Oh, wow. You know, your rotary club or a chamber of commerce or every time you get a new member, will you work with us, we’ll put together a package, we’ll send that to them. We also do that for businesses with new customers. You know, one of my favorites is a guy who’s got an H back company. He made two custom socks and made a hot sock and a cold sock. And we put that in a package. And once a week, he sends over a list of your my new customers. And we’ve been doing that for three years now. So we have a charity fundraising program for nonprofits. And now we’re selling into the wholesale channel so that retailers can carry us as well. So we have, we’re going to introduce the ability to provide fulfillment services, sembly and fulfillment services for other businesses. We’re really good at doing customized stuff. And plus you be able to say it’s powered by John and know that you’re employing people with different abilities. Those are some of the things we have on online product with developing our editing to our own line of songs. Yeah. We’re just getting started, right? Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 47:05
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, guys, I I’m sad that our time here today is winding down. But man, just for those people that are listening today, I want you to go back to the beginning and really listen to John and Mark here talk about the origin story of John’s crazy socks. All the incredible things you guys are doing. And just how you are truly using your business to spread happiness and help the world understand more about your causes your support and how people with differing abilities can just do awesome stuff.

Mark Cronin 47:45
And can we put in a little pitch? Yeah, people we can.

John Cronin 47:50
You can fire at Sean’s crazy sock.com

Mark Cronin 47:56
John’s crazy socks duck. Get socks, you’re gonna love express your personality sucks in a great 30,005 star reviews. You’re going to ship right away. You’re going to help us avoid people with different abilities help us get back most of all I have I

John Cronin 48:14
have a spread happen.

Mark Cronin 48:16
And you can also find us on all of the social media platforms transparency sites, Facebook, Instagram, tick tock. If you want to talk directly to us reach out on LinkedIn. We’re available there and YouTube and you know if you want us to speak reach out to us we’ll we travel the country you like that? Yeah, join speaking engagements.

John Cronin 48:40
I want to ask something. What do you want to hear? And now you like it too. I accept the fate of Venice

Mark Cronin 48:48
beaches of business. Yes. Oh, there we go. As we close out, you get advice for people.

John Cronin 48:54
You did your dad go ahead. Follow your follow your dream. Follow your dream. Follow it. Follow your heart. Walk hard show you can do there we go.

Damon Pistulka 49:12
And we will end on that. You guys hang out just for a minute. I want to tell everybody that was listening today. You need to go back to the beginning. Listen to John and Mark throughout this and get on John’s crazy socks. Get yourself some socks. Get your friends some socks. Get your kids your mom, your whole family some socks and John’s crazy socks because you are making great things happen there. John’s crazy socks. We’ll be back again next week on the faces of business. Hang out guys and we’ll finish up

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