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When Francesco Clark started experimenting with skin care formulas, it was to help himself. At 24, a diving accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.

That might sound like the beginning of Clark's Botanicals, the skin care company he founded, but it took a nudge from his former boss, Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey. She applied the contents of a glass vial that Clark's sister, Charlotte, had spirited away from the founder's home laboratory at a visit a decade ago.

"I got home and I was incredibly embarrassed because I was kind of like, 'Charlotte, this is not a brand.'"

Bailey called a few weeks later to insist that she feature the product in Harper's Bazaar's September issue. The ball was in Clark's court to package his homemade product ("'make it look chic,'") into something marketable. Clark's Botanicals launched in stores that same year.

Though the brand has been on roller-coaster ride the last four years -- Clark bought back his company last year after relying on private equity funding in 2016 -- he is feeling bullish about the future.

"You have to remove yourself from it, you have to look at the business holistically and how committed your customers will be to the brand after it is acquired," Clark said. "If the investment means the brand is growing in the right ways, then you should do it."


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