The Select Guest

Photographs by  Daphne Youree

Photographs by Daphne Youree


Featured 8.5-8.11.19 | Many authors write the book they need to read. Entrepreneurs often create products they want but cannot find. Though Francesco Clark’s career might line up quite nicely with both of those truisms, suggesting that he is the least bit “typical” would be way off base. Both his book and his business can be traced back to a single night: June 1, 2002. He was 24 years old, celebrating Memorial Day with friends on Long Island, when he dove head-first into a swimming pool, shattered his spine and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. The initial bleak prognosis from doctors left him deeply depressed, then dead-set determined — and now the man is simply unstoppable. Through aggressive physical therapy and training (5+ hours a day), he regained use of his arms, and in 2010 he wrote a book (Walking Papers) about his transformative experience and how it led him to create a line of homeopathic skin products. (For this former Harper's Bazaar fashion assistant who’d once been recruited to work in counterintelligence for the US Navy and later rubbed shoulders with Susan Lucci during a gig as a recurring extra on All My Children, a career path with sharp turns had become the norm.) Francesco’s foray into skincare began in the Clark family kitchen where he and his father Harold, a doctor specializing in alternative integrative medicine, were trying to mix up a salve to treat the severe rosacea and other chronic skin problems Francesco had developed due to an inability to sweat (a byproduct of his spinal injury). After 78 iterations, they finally landed on a formula that cleared up his skin entirely. The key to his cure, and now the star of Clark’s Botanicals skincare line? Jasmine Absolute, an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory essential oil that can naturally rebalance skin. Francesco’s hope is that as his products continue to gain loyal fans (among them Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Olivia Munn), and that he can help shine some of that spotlight on organizations like the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University that are near to his heart. If you're looking for a living example of how, even from the most terrifying disaster something wonderful can bloom, this is your man. Welcome to Francesco's week.