Sunday 23 October 2016

Jo Malone: My tough life put me on the scent of success'

Jo Malone tells her story
Jo Malone tells her story

Movers and shakers from the Dublin business world got a rare insight into creating the sweet smell of success.

Entrepreneur Jo Malone, the woman behind the scented candle empire and perfume empire, was the guest speaker at a Dublin Chamber of Commerce annual dinner attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

She shared her insights into growing a global business that was launched from her kitchen table, and also discussed her battle with cancer. Jo told of how she grew up in a working-class estate in Kent and went on to develop a multi-million pound business.

"I was the supporter and carer of my family. I was responsible for putting food on the table from 12-years-old ... But it was a really valuable upbringing because it taught me that nothing is wasted and you can turn around anything," she said.

Her father was a painter and Jo said she used to sell her products at a market.

"I went for a quick sale, because if I didn't there wouldn't be food on the table," she said.

Jo explained how she had her big break at 21, when she was selling bath oils door-to-door and got an order for 100 bottles.

"Those 100 bottles were for an event at the seats of movie directors, kings and queens. Within one month 86 wanted to buy this product," she said.

"In 1994 we opened our first tiny shop in Walton St - that's 21 years next week," she said.

Then, at 34-years-old, she found a lump on her breast.

"I had one of the worst, most aggressive cancers. I couldn't create fragrance. All I could think of was to survive for my family," she said.

"I was diagnosed and given six months to live ... So in 2006 I made the very tough decision to walk away from the baby I created.

"I made the worst decision of my life - what I didn't anticipate was that the creativity would come back."

Having left the Jo Malone brand behind her, the serial entrepreneur has now launched Jo Lover.

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