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Johnscrazysocks hero
• Oct 18, 2023

TD Bank recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) this October to honor the contributions that people with disabilities make to our nation's workplaces and economy. In 2023, TD Bank was recognized as a leader in disability inclusion by Disability:IN, DiversityInc, Forbes, and, most recently, National Organization on Disability for outstanding progress to break down the barriers to inclusion.

John Cronin was about to graduate from high school in Huntington, New York, but he wasn't quite sure what the future would hold.

As a young man with Down syndrome, he knew it would be harder to find a job. And when he could not find a job, John did not give up, instead, John decided that he would create a job for himself.

John wanted to start a business with his father, Mark. At first, John considered getting into the food truck business. While Mark wanted to be supportive, there was a significant problem.

“We can’t cook,” John said. The two went back to the drawing board.

John loved wearing colorful, creative socks. So, he decided to share his love of fanciful footwear with others.

“I want to sell crazy socks,” John told his father. Mark was all in.

Creating Opportunity

More than twice as many people with disabilities are unemployed as those without disabilities. Mark wanted John to beat the odds, and the two got their new business, John’s Crazy Socks, up and running quickly in 2016.

“We were bootstrapping,” Mark says, but they cobbled together a small inventory and set up a website and Facebook page. John made videos talking about “socks, socks, socks, and more socks.”

On their first day in business, John and Mark received 42 orders, mostly from the Huntington area. “It felt like a flood of orders,” Mark says. The two hand-delivered almost every one of those early orders with a handwritten note from John and Hershey’s Kisses.

Customers took photos with John and posted them on social media. Word spread quickly. Two weeks later, John and Mark had shipped over 400 orders. Business took off from there.

Choosing a bank that shares their values

The Special Olympics has been pivotal in John’s life. Being an athlete taught John key skills that he needed to be an entrepreneur, including discipline, how to be coached, teamwork, and how to work towards distant goals, Mark says.

“Without the Special Olympics there would be no John’s Crazy Socks,” Mark said.

Because the Special Olympics has been such an important part of John’s life, John and Mark pledged 5% of their earnings to the organization. When it came time to open an account for their new business, John and Mark agreed that TD Bank was the obvious choice for two reasons: convenient hours and its support of Special Olympics.

"The Cronins hit the ground running when they started up their business and showed the world that dreams do come true," said Ralph Bumbaca, Ralph Bumbaca, Commercial Market President of New York City, TD Bank. "This father-son entrepreneurial duo looks at disability as a strength, encouraging all of us to think differently, too. After all, they've inspired a community to embark on a similar career journey while making us smile in style with their trendy crazy socks."

Spreading Happiness

As their business grew, John and Mark made “spreading happiness” a key part of their mission. “The more we do for others, the better off we are,” Mark explains. In addition to the Special Olympics, John’s Crazy Socks now shares a portion of their profits with advocacy groups like the National Down Syndrome Society and the Autism Society of America, animal shelters, hospitals, and other organizations that help others.

Another way John and Mark spread happiness is by making people with disabilities a key part of their business. When it comes to supporting people with disabilities the key is to be “with us, not for us,” John says.

“Down syndrome never holds me back,” John says, and he and Mark believe that disability shouldn’t hold anyone else back either. When hiring new employees, they focus on what people can do. After all, people with disabilities seek nothing more than a fair shot at equal opportunity, just like everyone else.

Today, John’s Crazy Socks has 34 employees, 22 of whom have disabilities, including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and autism.

Encouraging others to follow their lead

Mark says that the socks they sell are the “physical manifestation” of what he and John are trying to accomplish. The purpose behind everything they do is to be “part of a larger movement” to improve the lives of people with disabilities, he explains.

John and Mark have given tours of their warehouse to thousands of people. They want others to see first-hand that people with different abilities can be excellent employees if given the chance. John’s Crazy Socks also brings in dozens of disabled high school students each year to give them work experience.

Because of their efforts on behalf of people with disabilities, John and Mark have been invited to speak on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. They have spoken to lawmakers, world leaders and major media outlets about the importance of providing meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Next month, they will be the keynote speakers at AMCB's fourth annual Colleague Disabilities Summit. This event is dedicated exclusively to advancing disability inclusion and equity at TD Bank.

John’s Crazy Socks is now a multi-million-dollar enterprise that has delivered socks to 88 countries. They make custom socks for businesses, weddings, and Bar Mitzvahs and can be found in major department stores throughout the country.

John and Mark have no plans of slowing down. They want to continue to spread their message of “inspiration and hope” to show the world “what people with different abilities can do,” Mark says.

Despite their growth, John and Mark maintain the personal touch. If they receive an order between their office and home, John still makes home deliveries. And every package still includes candy and a thank-you note from John. Despite all they have accomplished, John says, “We are just a couple of knuckleheads selling socks. All we’re trying to do is change the world.”

Want to learn more about Diversity & Inclusion?
How One Man Gained a New Lease on his Career as an Adult with Autism
TD Launches a New Accessibility Web Tool to Drive More Inclusive Online Experiences
TD Bank Recognized as a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" for Ninth Consecutive Year

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