Posted by Helen Murphie, Partner
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What’s a Small Menopausal Eccentric got to do with Jo Malone? By Helen Murphie
So the story goes…. Jo Malone was talking to the then Chancellor about business and the topic turned to SMEs.
“What’s a SME” whispered Ms Malone into the ear of her husband and mentor, Gary. “You are” – he replied. She paused for a moment and retorted: “What a small menopausal eccentric”? Far from it – Ms Malone. Her eponymous brand of fragrance is recognised all over the world, made her into a multi millionaire and gained her an MBE. When being serious, she describes herself as a canny and serious entrepreneur with a good nose for business and an even better nozzle for delighting the olfactory senses.
Ms Malone was speaking about her new venture “Jo Loves” and the road to success to entrepreneurs at the Evening Standard’s Business Connections event in Westminster last night, 25th September 2013.
Her story is an inspirational one. She left school at 15 without qualifications, was dyslexic, and got fired from her first shop assistant job after an incident involving a bucket of water! When she was not working as a beautician, she dabbled and experimented with mixing fragrant oils in her tiny Chelsea kitchen. Her first mixed oil was ginger and nutmeg which she gave as gifts to her clients. One customer was so impressed that she ordered 100 bottles. From small acorns, the oak tree began to grow. Ms Malone opened her first shop, stayed open on Christmas Eve to hit £1 million turnover, and then in 1999 sold her business to Estee Lauder for “ a lot of money”. She stayed on as creative director and the brand’s stores spread from Surrey to Sydney. But just when she “thought I have everything”, she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and told she had 9 months to live. Her son was two years old and there was no way she was going down without a fight. She found the best doctor and exterminated her foe like a dalek. That was ten years ago she tells her audience to rousing applause.
She left the business to regain her equilibrium. After a five year lock out from competing against her own brand, she decided it was time to return and turn her hand and nose to what she did best. Things have come full circle for Ms Malone. She will soon open her first Jo Loves boutique in Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, in the first shop from which she was fired more than 20 years ago. And her tips to entrepreneurs, “a great product, undiluted creativity and passion, and building enduring business relationships”.
Helen Murphie is an Employment and Business Immigration specialist. For further information please contact us on 0207 583 2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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