Life After Bankruptcy: Clark’s Botanicals Post-Chapter 11 Playbook

Clark’s Botanicals, an indie, natural skin-care brand, was growing when its parent company, Glansaol, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last December. 
While beauty has been a hot category for a few years, Clark’s was one of the increasing number of brands to wind up in a distressed situation. Eventually, through the bankruptcy court, the brand was sold, along with Laura Geller and Julep, for $18 million to AS Beauty. A few weeks later, founder Francesco Clark bought back a majority position in his brand with a plan to get things back on track. 
“I wanted to fast-track initiatives we had started years before that now that we were small and nimble again, we were able to speed up,” Clark said. The resulting plan — which has resulted in growth — included cleaning up formulations, new packaging, a web site overhaul and social media optimization plan. 
Here’s where he focused his efforts:
Web Site Redesign
“We started to see a lot of growth on, and we wanted it to be an easier experience for people who have never tried Clark’s Botanicals to learn about the products,” Clark said. The mobile-first plan included a back-end redesign to make the site faster and more intuitive, plus enhanced visuals to draw in potential shoppers, he said. 
Social Media
“We started working with two former Facebook directors to look at our AB testing and take a deep dive into our demographics,” Clark said. The goal was to take that data to make sure Clark’s was speaking to its customers in ways that resonate, and drawing people to its new mobile-optimized web site. “If you’re spending on social, you have to make sure you can go from your social media to your brand web site,” Clark said. The brand will also be crowdsourcing ideas from Instagram’s "join' feature, which enables people to join conversations.
New products, new formulations and new branding are slated to hit in early 2020. Clark's will release Jasmine Vital Cream, a gel cream meant to revitalize skin, on Feb. 1. It will debut in the brand's sleek new packaging — white, with seafoam green lettering, or the reverse — which also hits selves Feb. 1. The new packaging takes sustainability into account. It's glass, the current packaging is plastic, and comes in FSC-certified boxes. The brand has also reformulated its product line to be clean and include a proprietary Jasmine catalyst complex in every product.
To get the brand’s message out, Clark decided to ramp up collaboration efforts — but instead of going for an influencer cosigned product, he went for a charitable mission, and linked with RX Art. “One of the reasons I started Clark’s Botanicals was to feel like a person again and to have that sense of radical beauty — making you unleash the person you are on the inside to the outside,” said Clark, who suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis in 2002.
Clark’s not only hired the two former Facebook directors, but also a head of operations, and a head of sales, Matthew Henderson. “I’m able to put myself back into the entrepreneur position,” Clark added. 
The Results
Online conversion for Clark's Botanicals is up 220 percent, and product sales are up 50 percent, from the new web site. Industry sources have said the company is on track to do $6 million in sales for 2019, up close to 50 percent from 2018. 
“I’ve gotten a deep-dive Ph.D. program in what it means to work with a bigger team and work with the back-end, and being efficient, being innovative, being focused on product, being 100 percent focused on the customer, while we do that,” Clark said.
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