Founder Stories: Francesco Clark of Clark’s Botanicals

In 2002, Francesco Clark was working in fashion at Harper’s Bazaar when a tragic spinal cord injury left him unable to walk. He was also unable to sweat, which led his skin to break out in angry eruptions. When over-the-counter and prescription products failed to help, Clark turned to his father, a doctor with training in homeopathy, to help him create botanical-based solutions. Three years later, with his skin completely cured, he launched Clark’s Botanicals online. Now Clark counts celebrities — Cameron Diaz and Julianne Moore, to name a few — and the chicest fashion editors as customers, and is a National Ambassador for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. He gave us a peek into what makes Clark’s Botanicals successful. Hint: it’s a lot more than just his personal story.

The Development Process

Typically, a new product will take three years to formulate, from start to finish. It has to be something our customers want and need, and it needs to work, which is something that always frustrated me when I couldn't find products for my stubborn but sensitive skin. We test and try them on ourselves and on friends and family for at least two years. I made a skin-gel that was supposed to be a lightweight moisturizer but it looked like dried chalk on your face, and that definitely did not make it to the final stages. Not very chic.

The Products

The entire range has Jasmine Absolute as its core, because that was the only thing that helped rebalance my skin. We built upon that core to target specific skin issues: lines, dryness, acne, sun damage, aging, and redness. Every product has at least five ingredients to target skin concerns from both the botanical and medicinal angles, so you really see and feel a difference. We don't use unnecessary ingredients like parabens, laurel sulfates, perfumes that can cause a bad reaction, or petrochemicals.

The Bestsellers

A tie between our Nourishing Youth Serum and our Smoothing Marine Cream. Once, we sold out of both of these while we were mixing a new batch, and the panicked emails we got from customers made us realize that they had become part of a core regimen for some people, and what an honor! I was floored.

The Packaging

I wanted packaging that reflects a modern woman. That translates to a woman who is smart, sexy, and knows what she wants. She has tried the $500 creams and the $10 creams and doesn't fall for an airbrushed photo in an ad campaign. She wants something that will work!

The font is unique to Clark's Botanicals, and the names of each product say what the product is aimed to do, so when you see it, you know. The dark green is meant to evoke old apothecary glass, as if your doctor made this product just for you, and yet, it's still elegant. Plus, it's green and we're botanical. Hello, hi.

The Customers

I am constantly having in-store events and talking with customers, listening to what her needs are, and what she wants. Our main line is unisex, but 93 percent of our customer base is female and ranges from 18 to 38 years of age. For me, it always boils down to the customer, always. That's what makes me happy at the end of the day!

The Goal

Everyone now wants to use a product that will make them just be luminous. Beautiful skin means less make-up, and really is the most beautiful thing. When you know your skin looks its best, you have nothing to hide. You confidence grows, you smile more, and some things just seem to shine a little brighter.

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