The founder of skin-care brand Clark’s Botanicals, Francesco Clark, is hosting a web video series for HooplaHa.com called Stories That Inspire, set to launch in July.
Clark, who is wheelchair-bound as the result of a spinal cord injury he sustained after diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool, will interview others who have overcome adversity for the series. “My injury is very visible, so it’s no uncommon for people to ask why I’m in a wheelchair, but the people I’ve interviewed, none of them are physically handicapped, so you don’t really know their stories unless they’re willing to bring [them] up,” Clark said.
Clark interviews formerly homeless fashion photographer Mark Reay and journalist Miles O’Brien, who lost his left arm. Other interview subjects include a woman who was wrongly incarcerated for several years, and a father whose son was diagnosed with cancer following his own terminal cancer diagnosis. “He has such a strong spirit,” Clark said. “He still cracks jokes and goes to work and then he does treatments. He’s very real.” (The son has since gone into remission, Clark said.)
Despite the tumult the interview subjects have undergone, Clark insist the videos are more inspiring than tear-jerking, Clark said. “It’s really eye opening, actually, and to sit there and have them tell you this story in a very open way — it’s very touching,” he said.
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“One of the positive parts that I have seen with trauma is the way that you can connect with other people very quickly because there’s this sense of empathy,” Clark said. “It’s really eye-opening — to sit there and have them tell you this story in a very open way, it’s very touching.”
“It’s really interesting to see how the stories intertwine with each other. At the end of the interview, it’s an uplifting story on how strong the human spirit can be. It feels like you had the best coffee you could ever drink because you feel recharged at the end.”
Clark expects to continue the series. “Distribution talks are in the works right now,” he said. “It’s really gained more momentum than I [had] expected.”