SCI Superstar: Francesco Clark

francesco c.

Founder and President of Clark’s Botanicals, an award-winning skincare company with products that have been featured in Allure, In-Style, and The New York Times (just to name a few publications) and the author of Walking Papers: The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet, Francesco Clark is making the world beautiful and helping to heal it, all in one fell swoop.

Why he’s fearless

When he broke his neck in a diving accident 11 years ago – he was a bright eyed 24 year old just starting out in the fashion world working as an editorial assistant for Harper’s Bazaar. His near-death injury, which happened at a friend’s timeshare in Long Island (he mistakenly dove into the wrong end of the pool; the ladders were in the shallow end, causing him to misjudge), threw him utterly off course. Francesco was a C4 quad, struggling to move anything from the shoulders down. How could life carry on? But coming from a family of MD’s, he wasn’t about to accept neurological recovery was impossible.

He has gone through some amazing experimental therapies since his injury, proving to the medical world that it really is possible to get movement back using a combination of stem cells and vigorous physical therapy. After having embryonic stem cell surgery in China, adult stem cell treatment in Germany, trans-cranial continual muscle stimulation (where parts of his brain are targeted with an electric current to stimulate specific nerves) plus putting himself through 5 hours of therapy each day (which he does at home to save money), he’s now able to push himself in a manual wheelchair, type with his own hands and even hold a glass of water (plus he can feel his butt and he has hot and cold sensation in his legs); all things a C4 quad isn’t supposed to do.

But getting better hasn’t been his only goal post-injury. When Christopher Reeve died, Francesco had a moment in therapy, “What have I done to help this community?” he thought, and that was when he decided to become an advocate for people of spinal cord injuries. He contacted the Christopher & Dana Reeve foundation and has been one of their national ambassadors since 2004. Watch this video he took part in for a Reeve charity event.

And his award-winning company, Clark’s Botanicals, was born out of not being able to sweat. Apart from being in a wheelchair, having bad skin was another thing that held him back in the first years post-injury. With growing up in Italy, and then moving to New York City in 6th grade, Francesco had an interesting upbringing. Both of his parents were doctors, with his dad being one of the first MD’s to combine homeopathic treatments with western medicine.

He and his Dad worked to find the perfect homeopathic blend for his skin. After trying 78 combinations, they discovered jasmine absolute was the magic ticket. That led to him creating his very first product – just for himself – but after showing it to his old magazine friends, they fell in love with itt, and the rest let’s say is history. He founded Clark’s Botanicals and they specialize in high-end amino stimulating skincare products (which celebs can’t get enough of). Check out their official site (available at Saks, Anthropologie Henri Bendel stores and online).

What’s next?

Making skin beautiful, with a portion of each sale going to SCI research, he truly is using his injury for the better. In addition to running his company, he’s active in his role as an ambassador to the Reeve Foundation, and he has no qualms saying he believes he’ll be walking again in 5 years time. At the rate he’s going…..I wouldn’t put it past him.

Have you tried Clark’s Botanicals? What’s your favorite product?

Watch the videos!

Francesco Clark in an in-depth 4 pt. interview

Francesco Clark in a Reeve fundraiser video, introduced by Jane Krakowski

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