When Francesco launched Clark’s Botanicals back in 2005, he turned a personal tragedy into a success story. This is around the time I met Francesco for the first time and became an instant fan. How could I not? While so many complain for far less he always has a smile on his face and his good mood is uplifting and contagious! Seven years later, what started as a small skin care line with a handful of products is now a full-fledged skin care company with distribution at Henri Bendel and Space NK. All the products are based on botanical formulas that Francesco developed with the help of his father, Dr. Harold Clark. I personally love the Ultra Rich Lip Tints and always have one on me. Francesco has really poured his heart and soul into his company and everything about the brand is motivated by providing the best possible quality to his growing consumer base. Putting us all to shame, on top of his busy schedule Francesco has found the time to get involved in a charity that is very dear to him: The Christopher Reeve Foundation where he serves as National Ambassador. Proving that commerce and philanthropy work hand in hand, parts of the proceeds from the sale of Clarks Botanicals go to the foundation. More recently Francesco published his first book, a first person account of his accident and how it transformed his life. Entitled “Walking Papers: The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet” the book is a reflection of Francesco’s journey and a testament to his indomitable spirit. It is incredibly inspiring and I highly recommend it if you are still looking for a good read to take along on your summer vacation.
What I’m most surprised about is the power of personal image and its positive effects on your sense of self. Looking good can instill this compounded sense of confidence, where you can project your strengths, ultimately making you feel stronger. For me, beauty is a two-way street where you want to look the way that you feel. But then, there are particular days where you might not have that spark, and suddenly how you look can actually make you feel better.
2. If you did not live in Westchester where would you live and why?
If I won the lottery… I would live in Provence (South of France) or Tuscany. There’s a sense of nature and unadulterated history there, where you can stay in a villa that is 800 years old overlooking a beautiful field of lavender. I’ll need some friends to come with me!
3. When not working what do you enjoy doing?
Everything! I can be doing anything as long as I’m with the people that I care about and love. Sitting in a car in traffic could be just as enjoyable as sitting in a fancy restaurant, not that I want to be stuck in a car! I do love New York for its museums and fun art scene, because it’s so varied and dynamic. In fact, New York in general is ever evolving; neighborhoods shift with different cultures, and even just people watching can be fun.
4. What is your best memory from childhood?
Hiking in the Dolomites, where we would pick wild mushrooms… and I’m not even kidding.
5. What is your favorite holiday destination and why?
My favorite holiday destinations are Hawaii and Venice.
Hawaii because it’s a place where sea turtles hatch on the beach 5 feet away from you and a volcano is literally building a new island in front of your eyes. You just get a sense of the power of nature and it transports you beyond any state of being that you’re probably in.
Venice is just so mind-blowing because it’s built on top of water… it almost seems supernatural to me. It shows what determination and imagination can achieve.
6. Book or e-reader? Why and what are you currently reading?
I love e-reader because it’s difficult for me to hold a book in my hands right now. Right now I’m re-reading the Great Gatsby.
7. Which social media platform do you use and how did they impact your business?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
For me, Facebook is a way for many of my friends to see any sort of physical progress I have in my physical therapy, as well as see how the company (Clark’s Botanicals) is growing, in both a very interactive and dynamic way.
I don’t love Twitter because it has that 45-second life span where if something is not on your screen, you’re not going to read it. That’s not the way I think of my friends – not as 45-seconds important. I want to see what they’ve been up to for the last week or month.
8. What is a true luxury for you today?
A couple of true luxuries include spending quality time outdoors with my sister, nephew, and 4-year-old niece, as well as learning new languages.
9. What is your biggest accomplishment to date? Why?
My 4-year-old niece went to the American Girl Store in NYC and wanted to buy a wheelchair for her doll. When she found out that she had to wait a month to buy it, she started to cry. That sense of awareness and love, even in a 4 year old‘s mind, is just inspiring.