Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quad Beauty Tycoon

Clark's Botanicals is not your typical beauty company, and founder Francesco Clark will be the first one to tell you that. From how the formulas are developed to methods of building brand awareness, this business does things its own way.

And Francesco Clark is not your typical business owner. In 2002, he suffered a severe spinal-cord injury from a pool diving accident that left him without the ability to feel or move 98% of his body. As a result, Mr. Clark's skin became unresponsive to temperature. He stopped sweating, and the condition of his skin deteriorated. After trying dozens of skincare products, both over-the-counter and prescription, Mr. Clark took matters into his own hands. He enlisted the help of his father, a doctor and homeopathy expert, and together they developed a unique botanically-based moisturizing cream. After sharing the product with friends and family and receiving great feedback, the ball got rolling that would develop into Clark's Botanicals. Mr. Clark's injury never hindered him in building his company. "I think the biggest challenge for me was not the physical challenge, but it was showing people that I could do just as much as they could," he says.

Today, Clark's Botanicals has made a name for itself and has received attention from many fashion and beauty editors – without spending a dime on promotions. "We're a small company, so we don't have any advertising budget or marketing budget," says Mr. Clark. Instead, he's utilized contacts in the industry (Mr. Clark previously worked at Harpers Bazaar) and has even reached out to Michelle Obama for support – and she is now a Clark's customer. He credits much of the company's growth to word-of-mouth and the positive reputation of its products, which are made with essential oils such as Jasmine Absolute rather than the usual chemicals used in beauty products.

Mr. Clark also has a focus on helping others with spinal-cord injuries. A percentage of the profits from Clark's Botanicals is donated to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is devoted to curing spinal-cord injuries and improving the quality of life for people with paralysis. Mr. Clark spends a lot of time volunteering with the foundation, working on fundraisers and events. Mr. Reeve is a personal hero of his. "It's not just another beauty company, it's really my passion and my mission," says Mr. Clark.


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