This is a remarkable story of an amazing entrepreneur. Like it is really really remarkable.

Known around the world for her eponymous brand of fragrances, Jo Malone tells the remarkable and inspiring story of her rise from high school dropout to beloved business success.

She left school at 15 and worked for her mother, learning how to mix face creams and developing both her sense of smell and a desire to live a better life.

She moved closer to central London and swept floors for high-end grocer Justin de Blank for £19 a week, earning extra cash as a dogsitter for a rich woman in Belgravia, before working at posh florist Pulbrook & Gould.

All this gave her a glimpse “into a privileged world that I wanted to know more about”.

She enrolled at a Bible school in Kennington, where she met Gary Willcox, a surveyor, whom she married in 1985. Both her faith and her husband remain central to her life.

In 2003 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent two bouts of chemotherapy and had both breasts removed.

Figuring that she needed time to relax, she bowed out of the business but realised that idleness was the last thing she wanted.

As soon as a five-year lock-out clause, which prevented her from  working in the beauty business ended, she launched her new brand, Jo Loves, which continues to thrive, as clearly does she, today.



I think it is a book for everybody.

If you have ever doubted who you ar, and your life is about to change, it is a book you’ll find strength from.

You will find creativity in there. You will find passion, you will find humour, and also, if you have been in that awful situation where you are fighting a life-threatening disease, you will find strength, resilience and courage from it as well.

I am a male entrepreneur but this book is not just a female entrepreneur book. I think men are really going to enjoy it because I do deal with the times that were really tough, not just the easy times, so I think men will relate to this as much as women.

As much as this is a personal story of sheer determination and bloody-mindedness, it is also an invaluable manual for any would-be entrepreneur, filled with insights and written in a brisk style.

This is a very easy read, engaging and totally fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is a must read for entrepreneurs.

I will read it again.

Quotes that stood out for me

  • “Always find Tracey (her younger sister) something to do, never take your eyes off the ball, and be willing to toss it out and start again if it’s not absolutely perfect.”
  • “When I start to develop the idea for a fragrance, I am, in my mind, creating a unique character that breathes on its own, with a heartbeat, soul and personality: whispering to me its capabilities, strengths and weaknesses; hinting whether it will be dominant in a room or more reserved, and whether it will turn heads or slowly grow on people. But however it behaves socially, one thing is guaranteed: each one will make its charm and presence felt, stirring moods, memories, emotions…..and our senses.”
  • “I’m like a conductor pulling in different instruments and musicians to create a symphony”

  • “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life – Confucius”
  • “How does anyone get started? Easy. You start by getting off your arse and making difficult calls.”
  • “Simplicity sums up my approach. I believe that the hallmarks of quality and luxury are discernment, not fuss, not razzmatazz, not bells and whistles. Understated. Subtle. Like a scent that gradually makes itself known and quietly commands attention.” 

  • “To ask ‘why me?’ would be to wish that it was on someone else, and that didn’t seem fair. Life doesn’t always deal the good fortune cards.”
  • “It’s important to share my story……the more we shine light into the darkest, scariest of places, the more acceptable it seems and the less alone we have to be.”
  • “Cancer doesn’t define me. It only signifies eight months and three chapters in my life story.”
  • “Find a ladder. Or find a way to climb over the wall. Or dig a tunnel. Just find a way.”


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