Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with John and Mark X. Cronin, Founders of John's Crazy Socks, located in Farmingdale, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are John's Crazy Socks, a social enterprise with a mission to spread happiness. We have bootstrapped our business into the world's largest sock store. Our customers get great socks – we have over 30,000 five-star reviews – but there is so much more. You help us employ people with differing abilities – more than half of our colleagues have differing abilities. You help us give back – we pledge five percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics and have donated $600,000 to our charity partners like the National Down Syndrome Society, the Autism Society of America, and United Cerebral Palsy. Most of all, the socks spread happiness.
Tell us about yourself
Our story began in the fall of 2016. John had entered his last year of school attending Huntington High School and Wilson Tech, where he studied retailing and customer service. At the same time, his Dad, Mark, was beginning to build some online businesses. John needed to decide what he would do when he left school, so he began looking at his options. Unable to find meaningful work, John turned to his father and said, "I want to go into business with you." And it was John's idea to sell socks as a way to spread happiness.
We went to the lean start-up route by building a simple online store, getting a little inventory, and doing some grassroots marketing. Customers loved it, so we grew the business. Today, we offer 4,000 different socks, which makes John's Crazy Socks the world's largest sock store. We're spreading happiness by employing people with differing abilities and showing the world what they can do by giving back to our charity partners and spreading happiness.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We have been very fortunate. We have testified twice before the U.S. Congress and spoken twice at the United Nations. We have been named EY Entrepreneurs of the Year. Yet there are two things that excite us the most:
• We have created 34 jobs, and more than half (22, to be precise) are held by people with differing abilities. We have been able to create meaningful work for people who could not find jobs elsewhere. There is nothing better than when we are in a busy season, and the whole place is full of laughter and activity.
• When we see the smiles on our customers' faces. We love to hear customers tell us, "When I put on your socks, they just make me happy."
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Growing the business so we can create more jobs for people with differing abilities.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your purpose. Not what you do, but why you do it.
- Don't overthink. Don't wait for perfection. Take action, be ready, fire, and aim.
- Believe in what you are doing. Have the courage of your convictions.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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