Entrepreneur: Boyce Clark
(Photography by Brian Baiamonte)
POSITION CEO and chief cosmetic chemist
COMPANY Lubricity Labs
WHAT THEY DO High-end, naturally derived hair care products to tame frizz and add shine and softness
ADDRESS 8000 Innovation Park Drive
NEXT GOALS Increase brand recognition and expand customer base
As a single parent of two girls, Boyce Clark had struggled in vain for years to comb through the tangles and unruly frizz of his daughter Alden’s hair each morning. Wary of harsh chemical solutions like Keratin straightening treatments, Clark set out two years ago in search of a hair care solution with his Ph.D. in biogeochemistry, a lab coat and a KitchenAid mixer. He studied the anatomy, physiology and chemistry of hair, then transformed his kitchen into a lab, combining a variety of naturally derived solutions sourced from local pharmaceutical and personal care companies, carefully testing each one on his daughter’s hair. “After almost nine months, it was formula 17,” he says. “Immediately when I put it on her hair, I could tell the difference.” He mixed up five gallons of his homemade hair treatment in orange Home Depot buckets, assuming it would get them through Alden’s teenage years.
After sharing his treatment in Tupperware containers with curious friends and family members, a small business began to form as word spread throughout Baton Rouge about Clark’s creation. Two months after sending his daughter to school with her new, shiny locks, Clark received an unexpected call: Local spa and salon Bumble Lane wanted to carry his product line. “While the owner is on the phone saying this, I’m looking at the orange Home Depot buckets thinking, ‘My product line?’” Clark recalls. He spent the next month making bigger batches, designing his own labels and ordering bottles. Today, Clark’s handcrafted hair therapy business has its products in six Baton Rouge salons and a growing online following. Along with the two-step system, Lubricity Labs also offers Q-Shampoo and Q-Conditioner for maintaining results, and a line of men’s products. Clark prides himself on the fact that Lubricity Labs’ solutions are naturally derived from ingredients like fruit acids, and proteins from quinoa and shea. “I wanted the safest thing for her hair, but I wanted it to be effective,” he says.
After a career in corporate America as an environmental consultant, Clark now finds his work “incredibly fulfilling” because he knows people are able to have a better day—and even a better life—because of his scientific solutions. From his first post-college job at a nuclear weapons lab to his newfound life as an entrepreneur, Clark continues to tackle new challenges using his love of science as both a motivator and a solution. “I’ve always been drawn to the chemical making of things,” he says. So much so that he has obtained a degree in photography from Millsaps College mainly because he enjoys the chemistry of making his own photo paper, and he also once ran a small catering business as a chef specializing in molecular gastronomy. “So just having a basis of science allowed me to understand the chemistry of hair,” he says. “I know what every compound in my product does, and I don’t have anything in there that is not contributing to its success.”
Still, Clark is striving to master the intricacies of his new hair care product line. “The challenge I face every day is self-doubt,” he says. That’s why his chief marketing officer and only employee, Robin Keller, is tasked with sharing Clark’s story in salons, online and at Lubricity Labs parties held in customers’ living rooms across the Southeast. “I feel like if you listen to the story, that will compel you to try it,” Clark says, “and I know that as soon as you try it, you are going to love it.” Fresh off winning the 2016 Pitch Night competition at Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week, Clark is using the $250,000 prize to move into lab space at the Louisiana Business and Technology Center. He’s also investing in a sales force to expand into more salons, grow his social media presence and increase marketing efforts, which have proven effective in netting new customers outside Baton Rouge. Within a year, he plans to fully outsource his lab operations to focus on strengthening the brand and one day he hopes to see Lubricity Labs products added to the portfolio of a large company.