A Life in Fragrance
Continuing to be inspired by all things fragrance, Jo Malone founded Jo Loves. She chats signature scents, ingredients and evoking memories through scent
Q&A with Lauren Naylor
To many, household name Jo Malone conjures up visions of crisp citrus fragrances presented in buttercream coloured boxes and neatly finished with a swish black gross-gain ribbon. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find yourself the recipient of one of her eponymous scents.
The luxury perfume brand was founded in 1983, and instantly became a household name following Jo’s personal appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. At that point consumers became aware Jo Malone was a real person, and not just a brand name and so her successful perfumery journey began. Fifteen years later, the inspirational creative genius sold her perfume empire to Estée Lauder for “undisclosed millions,” a great achievement for someone who left school aged 14, without any qualifications.
Jo went on to receive an MBE, and in 2018 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the British economy, and the GREAT Britain campaign which promotes British creativity on the international stage. Her olfactory expertise has led her to be the mastermind of two of the most iconic British beauty brands: Jo Malone and Jo Loves.
Prior to launching Jo Loves, Jo faced a non-compete agreement which prevented her from creating fragrance or skin care lines for five years. Now she’s well and truly back. She’s shaking up the fragrance industry as we know it yet again, introducing a range of fragrance body sprays, perfume paint brushes and introducing an exotic fragrance tapas experience all under her new guise: Jo Loves.
So, what does Jo love?
I love the creative adventure of being an entrepreneur, I love being an ambassador for the BFI (British Film Institute) as I adore movies. I love animals, especially dogs and horses and I love nothing more than cooking for friends and family.
How would you describe your Jo Loves signature scent, Pomelo? What’s the story behind it?
Pomelo was the first Jo Loves fragrance I created. Inspired whilst on holiday at Parrot Cay, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, this wonderfully clean grapefruit-infused citrus scent is made up of my favourite summer memories and moments – it’s the feeling of walking barefoot along the white beach collecting sand dollars, the fresh linen sheets in my room, and a glass of sparkling water with lots of crushed ice to cool own. I surround myself with Pomelo wherever I go. It’s the fragrance that causes people to stop me in the street to ask what I’m wearing.
What do you do to wind-down and relax?
I love to cook; I could spend all day in the kitchen cooking, in the summer I go to Montana every year and ride my horse Josie for the week (soulfood) and I adore watching films, sometimes I do this back to back. I love the whole film process – from the making right all the way through to the viewing.
Your scents have a luxurious grown-up feel to them, but is there anything from your childhood you’ve used as inspiration?
Not just my childhood, but every memory and moment is the potential for every inspiration. The turning point was learning the artistry from my father, I learnt a lot from him.
What scents take you back to memorable moments in your life?
My dad wore Guerlain Vetiver, my mum Ma Griffe Carven. My first fragrance was Charlie, my first cologne was a bottle of 4711, the fragrance I wore on my wedding day was Diorella Christian Dior. I could tell my whole life story with just fragrance memories.
What advice would you give your 16 year old self today?
Don’t be in such a hurry to finish the journey, enjoy the moment and remember to celebrate more.
If a customer was looking to switch up their usual perfume for a summer-friendly scent, which notes would you recommend to look for?
In the heat of the summer, there is nothing more delicious than to spritz your body with cool, crisp, fresh citrus notes – a perfect summer cologne. Pomelo, Mandrine and Orange Butterflies are beautiful scents for summer.
If you had to choose an ingredient that resonates with you what would it be and why?
The two ingredients I love are grapefruit and orange blossom.
What’s your biggest business achievement to date?
I have so many amazing achievements, but I would have to say being awarded the title of CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, recognising my services to the British economy and the GREAT Britain campaign is such an honour. I don’t think anything beats that moment as you open the letter and realise you are being honoured by your Queen and country.
Do you believe that a perfume is an instant mood lifter? What makes you most happy?
I don’t believe perfume is an instant mood lifter but it adds to life’s moments; for me the smell of Pomelo reminds me of family and home, where I feel safe and happy.
You encourage customers to mix scents and create their own bespoke cocktail at your new fragrance brasserie bar, tell us a bit about that service?
Yes, we offer a complimentary Fragrance Tapas at our Jo Loves Elizabeth Street store where customers can experience three fragrant courses designed to amuse their nose, scent their skin and ignite their imagination. For a bespoke fragrance, layer one of the Jo Loves Fragrance Body Sprays with our Fragrance Paintbrush™ to create a scented masterpiece.
If someone was looking to start out as a solo female entrepreneur, what nuggets of advice would you give them?
Creativity, passion and resilience, I think they’re the three greatest things you can have in business. If you’ve got those, you’re ready for the journey.
What should we expect from Jo Loves in the near future?
I set out from day one to build a global brand and five years on that is exactly what we are doing. It is also to cause the world to look and be creative with fragrance and to become the artist of their own creation.
Enquires: Jo Loves, 42 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 9NZ / 0207 7308611 / www.joloves.com/