Many consider the health and beauty field hopelessly crowded and competitive, too much so for a small business owner to make their mark. However, Francesco Clark saw just the opposite. He saw a field without the high quality, natural products that many consumers are seeking. This led to the birth of Clark’s Botanicals.
Clark suffered a severe injury in 2002 that left him without the ability to move or even feel the majority of his body. His skin condition began to deteriorate because of the injury. Clark then asked his father, a physician and homeopath, to help him design skin products that would help him. Together, they developed a line of botanically-based products that would become Clark’s Botanicals.
The two shared some of their products with family and friends, and were amazed at the positive feedback. People loved the smell of the essential oils that were key ingredients along with the absence of irritating chemicals. This led to positive word of mouth buzz and a unique opportunity to enter the health and beauty field with an already strong group of customers and supporters.
Clark began with no marketing budget, but he quickly learned that the media could be used for free advertising. He had a compelling story that large news outlets wanted to portray. He also had a strong product that industry magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar wanted to cover. Because Clark had previously worked in the beauty magazine industry, he knew how to present his product so it would be snatched up as a news piece.
This and other free publicity have bolstered Clark’s Botanicals almost overnight to a national, well known brands. Even first lady Michelle Obama has been known to rave about them. After only five years in business, Clark’s Botanicals has fourteen employees and annual revenue of eight million. This is truly a grassroots, small business success story.
Francesco Clark has not forgotten the reason for his product line’s institution. He is interested in helping people with spinal cord injuries and donates a percentage of the company profits to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Despite his own health issues, or perhaps because of them, Clark has found success and made himself the unlikely hero of people with similar conditions.
Even if you don’t have as compelling a story or as strong of media connections, there are a few things you can learn from Clark’s Botanicals. First, allowing people to sample your product and learn about what makes it unique can create immense buzz and set your company up for success. Second, don’t be shy about using your existing contacts in a way that helps your business. Last, let the media be your friend. Even if you don’t have as compelling a story as Francesco Clark, you still are likely to have some unique feature that can become an interesting media story.
As you can see, small business success can be had by anyone, no matter what barriers stand in your way. The secret is to create a unique product and promote it constantly. Francesco Clark has found unlikely business success and so can you!