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Business Shapers: Jo Malone

Posted on 28 January 2014

Jo Malone featured on Jazz Shapers, a radio programme broadcast on Jazz FM, presented by Mishcon de Reya’s Director of Business Development, Elliot Moss.

On Jazz Shapers, entrepreneurs like Jo, who have defined and shaped business, are interviewed by Elliot. Alongside music from the risk takers and leaders of jazz, soul, funk and blues, they share the story of their careers and offer advice to anybody thinking of setting up a business.

You can listen to Jazz Shapers live every Saturday at 9am here.


My dad was an artist, brilliant man but a typical creative character. My mum was in the beauty industry. From a young age I would do the markets with my father selling paintings which isn’t easy when you are eight, nine years old doing that but I loved it.

From a very young age I had that survival instinct and I knew that if I didn’t sell a painting or I didn’t sell a face cream we wouldn’t eat. Having dyslexia caused me to look at life very differently because my mind is wired to find solutions, you know if I find that every door is being closed in front of me you know what, I’ll climb over the wall, I’ll dig a tunnel or I’ll find the back door.

And I used to do people’s faces and I created this tiny little bottle of bath oil called Nutmeg and Ginger and I would give it to people who would come and have their faces done to say thank you and one lady one day said ‘can I have a hundred bottles, I want to put it at the place of a big party’ so in my little kitchen I set out to make a hundred bottles and within one month eighty six out of a hundred people re-ordered the product and that was the moment at which the flood gates opened.

I had sold my business in 1999, stayed part of it for five years and thought I had arrived, you know I’d get on a plane, I’d be sitting in the nice little front part of the plane, I’d go and stay in hotels, I’d be upgraded into beautiful rooms and it was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer that my life did change. I had to stop – so took a year out, fought the disease, did everything that I had to do.

Launching a new brand and doing it all over again has been more scary and more terrifying this time round than it ever did the first time. I know when I open that door this time what lies behind it. People don’t see my failures, all the grazed knees and all the sorry moments when I go home and cry into my soup. I think passion is such an important part of life and it’s so fulfilling. Be inspirational, find inspiration, do things full of innovation. Don’t always do things in the same way. When you get that ignition, that moment when your product and your brand and your business starts, run with it, let your feet leave the floor. You know what, they will always come down at some point.

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