CEW (UK) Mentoring event with Jo Malone MBE

A little while ago, when I heard that Jo Malone was launching her new venture, called Jo Loves, I e-mailed her to ask for anJL interview, as I was really curious about a new stage of her career, but she hasn’t replied, so when the occasion arose last Monday to attend a mentoring event, ‘How to launch a global beauty brand’, organised by CEW UK, with Jo Malone MBE, I was very pleased that I managed to get a ticket, as the event sold out in record time.

The event started on a sombre note of the news of passing away of Evelyn Lauder from ovarian cancer (the news made all the more poignant because she was the woman who started the pink ribbon cancer campaign and was tirelessly raising funds for this cause for many years). Jo knew Evelyn very well and she was the first person who Jo called after getting diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Upon hearing the news, Evelyn urged Jo to come to New York for treatment, saying ‘Sweetheart, you make lemonade from lemons’.

Jo, looking very smart and full of beans in her beautiful leather jacket went on talking about her hectic start to the day when her hairdresser, Sean, didn’t turn up and she used Fairy liquid in her hair-I don’t know whether she was serious but she certainly made all of the women present in the auditorium chuckle and relate to the situation, as Jo went on to remark that ‘things happen in life but the outcome depends on how you manage to turn them around’.

Jo Malonehas created an incredibly successful brand-I remember how special it felt every time I bought a bottle of her perfume from her first shop in Walton street. Jo sold her business  to Estee Lauder and left the creative director post in 2007, but she says she loves the brand to this day.

Jo’s road to success started as a facialist, when she walked from house to house with her massage table, offering her services and when women started recommending her to each other, as a gratitude gesture, she started mixing little bottles of oils for them as treats until one day one of her clients bought a 100 bottles to give away as a gift at a party and it turned out that 86 out of 100 women-must have been a big party .)- wanted to buy the product. Jo said self-depreciatingly that her timing is always great as Jo Malone was started in the middle of recession-and our current times, coinciding with the launch of Jo Loves, aren’t easy for people either. The growth was gradual but steady and Jo’s shops spread as far as Australia-she says she loved the times when no one knew her there and it took time and effort to build the brand’s recognition abroad.

As Jo’s brand grew, life threw a curve ball in her lap, called breast cancer diagnosis and she was told by the doctor that if left untreated, she only had weeks to live, so Jo took the decision and flew to NY, on Evelyn Lauder’s advice and had surgery 48 hours later. Her initial recovery took a year, which she has spent with her husband and son in NY but Jo said that an event like this changes you and she did start looking at life, and things in general, differently-she gave an example that while she was recuperating in NY, her store opened on Madison Avenue, yet she realised that her passion for her business wasn’t there any more and she was standing at the cross road, as her love for the industry was draining away and she had no creative ideas floating in her head anymore. She decided to sell her business to Estee Lauder, who was her retail partner and of course, waking up the next morning, she regretted selling the business.

Some time has passed, and Jo ventured out with a new project, a TV show on BBC1 that centered on finding entrepreneurs and helping them become a successful business. Jo reinforced the point that ‘small businesses will re-build this country’ again and again, and she seems to passionately believe in this idea. After that programme, out of eight candidates, five are still running their businesses with some success and one is stocked up in Waitrose. Jo did stress that she loved that opportunity and experience but will never do it again, however another good seed was planted during that period-she was invited to make chilli sauce in the garden shed with a Hindu family (who were programme’s participants) and as she was helping with the cooking, she realised that her passion was coming back and she was again excited about the idea of going our and selling her product hence the name of her new brand

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Vera Wang’s Lovestruck perfume-loving the bottle design

VWOn most occasions I buy perfume because I like the smell and the mood that the perfume creates, but when I saw an ad for Vera Wang’s VW2‘Lovestruck’ perfume, I knew I wanted the bottle on my desk even before I smelled the perfume.

The bottle design and graphics are simple but I like the colour and the top of the bottle, where pretty flowers are tied with a wild ribbon-it just stands out and looks very girly.

The actual perfume has the mandarin and pink guava top notes and vanilla and precious wood as a base (there are more notes, it’s just that my nose isn’t that sophisticated in terms of identifying all top, heart and base notes) and it smells quite sweet on initial application and gets more feminine as the time goes by.

The perfume is stocked up by Harrods but you can also buy it at the Duty Free shops at Heathrow or on board the BA flight-I got a pretty good deal on the latter one flying from Moscow to London-smugly happy me .)