John’s Crazy Socks, the Melville-based online retailer created partly by a young man with Down syndrome, will play a starring role in an upcoming film festival.
“Sock Guys,” Katie Turinski’s short documentary on the father-son business, will play (Saturday at 1:30 p.m.) as part of the annual ReelAbilities Film Festival, which has moved its content online during the coronavirus shutdown.
The 10-minute film tells the story of Mark Cronin, 61, and his son John, a 24-year-old man with Down syndrome, who in 2016 launched John’s Crazy Socks, inspired by John’s lifelong passion for vibrantly colored hosiery. According to Mark, the company’s missions include hiring employees with disabilities, raising money for related causes and turning a profit. John’s Crazy Socks got a big marketing boost in 2018 when former president George H.W. Bush tweeted a picture of himself wearing a pair for World Down syndrome Day.
“I first became aware of Mark and John through a promotional video that popped up in my Facebook feed,” says Turinski, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and editor. “I was just immediately drawn to their natural charisma and their father-son dynamic-duo thing.” Turinski filmed the Cronins for roughly six days over the course of several months in 2018.
“They’re used to cameras in the office and used to getting a lot of attention,” Turinski says, “because Mark and John are so good ... [at] marketing themselves. So from a filmmaking standpoint, it was very easy.”
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Mark Cronin says, John’s Crazy Socks is still operating because fulfillment and distribution centers are considered “essential.” With no employees working at the moment, though, the Cronins are doing everything themselves. “It’s a pick-and-pack warehouse,” John Cronin says, “so I take an order form, and then I go up in the warehouse and I go where the socks are.”
After work, the father and son do a live video show through Mark Cronin’s personal Facebook page. “It’s called ‘Spreading Happiness,’ ” the elder Cronin says. “It’s a way of connecting and bringing a little cheer. If we can make people smile, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Tickets for “Sock Guys” can be purchased at reelabilities.org. The Cronins will take part in an online Q&A on Saturday. The festival runs through Monday.