Last week I was lucky enough to hear Jo Malone speak chat about her life at a literary festival. At the beginning of the chat we were asked how many of us had a Jo Malone perfume or candle in our house and not a single person kept their hand down. I am pretty sure that Ken Hom who is a friend of Jo’s and was sitting at the back might have even snuck his hand up too.
What most of actually have those is a product from the range Jo Malone no longer oversees, having sold her business to Estee Lauder in 1999. It was hard to believe that it was nearly 18 years ago that happened, if you had asked most of us when that had been, I am sure most of us would have said five or ten at most. What has happened in the years since then is fascinating.
And also heart breaking.
Jo sold the business and then had a period of five years where she wasn’t allowed to work in the industry, was unable to do pretty much the only thing she had ever done: create fragrances. I cannot imagine how tough that must be. How do you identify yourself if the one thing you are known for is something you are no longer permitted to do. The first thing Jo had to do though, was beat breast cancer. Diagnosed pretty much at the same time she sold the business it was a very personal story that Jo told, and recounts in more detail in her book.
A book that you really should read as it isn’t just an autobiography it’s a book about courage, determination and encouragement. That if you really have a passion for something, you should run with it. You should pursue it and do all you can to make it a success. The Jo we were listening to was very different from the young girl born on a council estate in Bexleyheath who became responsible for her little sister and pretty much running the household when she was only 9 years old. Jo is dyslexic and left school with no qualifications, doesn’t drive and in her own words “still doesn’t know left from right”.
Yet at the same time Jo is still that same person. Still focused, still determined, still driven she went on to develop another fragrance company, called Jo Loves, that is now another phenomenal success. I don’t think I have ever come away so inspired from a talk at a literary festival before!
If you are looking for an inspirational book to put on your (dare I say it) Christmas list, I can really recommend Jo’s.
And talking of the C word, my lovely friends at Stone and Chrome are giving away a Pomegranate Noir reed diffuser (worth £62 so it would make an ideal Christmas present), if you want to fill in the Rafflecopter widget below you will be entered into the draw. You don’t even need to answer a question!
All the Ts and Cs are on the rafflecopter widget!