Jo Malone on her five year hiatus and her new project: Jo Loves
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 December 2018
Jo Malone's life story is extraordinary, her achievements form quite the list and we're not just talking perfume here.
The story of the brand Jo Malone London has been written many a time, not least by Jo herself in her autobiography, My Story, published in 2016. It’s a good read; if you’re looking for inspiration, for a glimpse into how to make it as a retail superstar, it’s not a bad place to start. I’m not meeting Jo to talk about that though, but to talk about her re-arrival (is that a word? I suspect not, but it works for me) on the beauty scene with her new baby, Jo Loves, and how it feels to be back in the place she truly belongs.
In 2011, after a five year hiatus enforced by a clause in her contract when she left Jo Malone London with Estee Lauder Companies, Jo came back in beautiful style with Jo Loves.
‘I built Jo Malone London from my kitchen sink,’ she says, ‘How can you not feel pride for that? I don’t regret walking away, I love the Lauder family, I don’t regret selling to them and it is two very distinct parts of my life. I think other people have more of a hang-up than I do about it. I know who I am now and who I was then and they’re two very different people. I still have that same spirit and same integrity, but the creativity is very different. Creativity changes; if you look at an artist or a musician their work doesn’t stay the same and that’s the same for me - I am braver now, I am more courageous.
‘During the five years [of the non-compete clause] I felt so unhappy. I had lost my identity, I was void of any purpose and, for me, I was not raised to be that person. I love working, I love getting up and going to work every day. I need that sense of purpose, of building something, so those five years were torturous for me. I realise now that creating perfumes is not a business for me, it’s not a job - it’s my best friend and I love spending time with my best friend.
‘I decided I was going to give it one more try. I felt that life is too long to have these huge regrets and too short to be miserable. And I knew if I didn’t do something I would end up regretting it.
‘I set out to continue a walk with something I loved, but I felt very different. I look at Jo Loves now and it’s like this creative laboratory in my head and I’m braver; this brand is about innovation, inspiration – I’m telling you the story of my life through it and I’m not the 22 year old kid anymore, I’m this woman in her 50s that travels around the world and I have these incredible adventures, I really do, and then I go back and think okay, how do I tell this story through the sense of smell?’
This is what brings us to Jo, by Jo Loves, the brand’s newest scent and, Jo says, the distillation of her own story.
‘There’s a moment when you feel that your past, your present and your future become one moment. I’ve felt that in the last year that everything I have gone through in my life has brought me to this moment in time and I have this unbelievable sense that a huge adventure is about to start for me. I can feel it in the air.
‘When I started creating this fragrance it was just for me; one of the greatest ingredients I love is grapefruit, it was the first ingredient I turned to after five years. I wasn’t going to launch it, I wasn’t going to call it Jo. I was the only person who wore it for a year and every time someone asked I didn’t have a name. I got to the point when I thought you know what, I think I’m going to launch this. Calling it Jo - you can only give a fragrance your name once! I have chosen the red bottle, I have chosen the name and at this particular moment, nothing is more fitting to celebrate my past, present and future.’
It is a simply fabulous scent. I have worn it myself and been asked repeatedly what it is. It leads with grapefruit, and often those top notes disappear as the scent warms on the skin, but not this time, this time the citrus note lingers and is underpinned by lime, black pepper and cedarwood to create something utterly unique – possibly her ‘Lime, Basil and Mandarin moment’ for her new era. It’s heaven, that much I can assure you of.
‘It’s not masculine, it’s not feminine, it tells a story of tenacity and of never quitting; it tells my story.’