Two years ago, John Lee Cronin faced a challenging predicament with no clear solution. He was finishing his last year of school, attending both Huntington High School and Wilson Tech. He was studying retail and customer service.

John was trying to figure out what to do after he completed school. He had worked several part-time jobs during his school years, but the prospects didn’t look too good at the time. John Lee has Down Syndrome.

Not a person who cowers from a challenge, John Lee decided to turn to something he was familiar with. He told his father, Mark, that he wanted to go into business with him. At the time, Mark was in the process of building several on-line businesses for himself.

The duo’s first thought was a food truck – until they realized that neither of them could boil water. With the food truck idea off the table (see what I did there?), John and Mark rattled their brains to try to discover what their next big thing would be.

For years, Mark had driven John around town, and further, to find what John termed, “crazy socks.” John loves crazy socks and has worn them for a number of years. The light bulb went off, and John had the idea for his and Mark’s new business venture.

John’s Crazy Socks.

“Crazy socks really make me very happy,” John said. “I love crazy socks, and I have worn crazy socks all of my life. They’re fun, they’re colorful and they’re creative. They always let me be me.

“I wanted to go into business with my Dad because I like to do fun things with my Dad,” John continued. “I love working, and I consider work fun.”

Mark truly had very little reservation about this joint venture, because he knew that John was up for the challenge.

“Often times, with someone with differing abilities, there aren’t a lot of options out there,” Mark said. “John is not one to see obstacles. He just sees things and does things and assumes they’re going to work out. Instead of hiding it and putting it in the back, John is the face of the business. He’s right out front so people can see him.”

When you go to the website (and I suggest that you do: the first thing you’ll see is John greeting you with his smiling face on the landing page. There’s a bunch of videos about the business, and they all feature John. If you sign up for the free newsletter, you’ll get occasional messages from John. And when your order of crazy socks is delivered to your front door, there’s some candy and a hand-written thank you note from John in the box.

Don’t be fooled, however, that this is solely a feel-good story. This is serious business.

The two-year anniversary of the business was Sunday, December 9. That first Friday in 2016, the website crashed. They sold 452 orders worth $13,000 the first month. Last year, John’s Crazy Socks delivered 42,710 orders worth $1.7 million. This year, they’re going to process more than 160,000 orders and eclipse $5 million. They have shipped to every state in the union, and to more than 80 countries.

But that’s not even the best part.

Come Back next Wednesday for Part II of John’s Crazy Socks