Jo Malone on Jo Loves: "Create a product that changes the world"
I n Dubai to announce the launch of her latest luxury venture, Jo Loves, Jo Malone sat down with Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor in Chief, Shannon Wylie, to discuss her exclusive collaboration with Net-a-Porter, the story of her signature Pomelo scent and why her summer essential includes 75 candles, all burning at the same time...
Welcome back to Dubai! Congratulations on the Net-a-Porter launch.
Thank you. It's very exciting. Newby (Hands) has just joined Net-a-Porter from Harper's Bazaar. We go back 30 years! When I first started my business (Jo Malone) 30 years ago, Newbie was amazing and very supportive. We've been friends for a long time. So when she went to Net-a-Porter, we sat down to dinner and she said, "Jo, the world is waking up and we need to work today". It was one of the easiest deals I have ever signed.
It was two people from two different companies that wanted to work together. And here we are!
When will Jo Loves be on Net-a-Porter?
June 20. It won't be everything, just Pomelo, which is our number one product. As well as Red Truffle 21, which is celebrating 21 years. It's very masculine, green orange and coriander. I think two candles and five fragrances, shower gels and body lotions too.
And you're based out of London?
Yes, we have a little fragrance shop. It's a little bar where you come and experience fragrance, but it's for your nose and not your mouth. We have a cocktail bar and a candle studio, where you come and create your own product. We also have some products that are not going on to Net-a-Porter just yet. We're starting off with the ones that we know the world wants, like Pomelo, everyone wants Pomelo.
So what is the Pomelo story?
After five years of not working, I thought I could just pick up creating a fragrance again but I couldn't and it didn't happen. Some of the very first fragrances I did were just notes and it made me really unhappy because I didn't love them. The more I tried, the worst it got.
Then I created this fragrance called Pomelo. We went on holiday to Paraquee and I had already put in an order for 1000 bottles, and for a small business, that's quite a lot. But in my head and my gut, I knew this fragrance wasn't right. So I walked around the beach one morning; they have white sandy beaches and the bluest oceans you have ever seen. Then as I looked to the side of me, there was a stingray following me in the water. As I stopped, it stopped, as I walked, the stingray walked. It was eerie but beautiful. During that moment, it was as if life was saying to me, trust your instinct, do what you know is the right thing, regardless. It was like the stingray was trying to mirror my creativity.
Then, back at the villa, I remember having breakfast and there were a lot of juices, including Pomelo. I remember saying to my husband: "We can't launch the perfume as it is." He just looked at me and said: "You have got to be joking". He didn't speak to me for two days (laughs).
I went back to London, I started to work and then the missing piece of it came to me while I was walking along Oxford Street. I was dressed completely in white linen and it was a very hot day in London. That's when I thought of the missing element. I went back to the lab, sat there, dropped in Pomelo and now it's number one wherever we go. I spray the chairs on the airplane, my bedroom, I even bathe my dog in it. I also have my house floors, which are white wood, washed in Pomelo water. It's like my best friend.
So I have to ask, in your words, what is the difference between Jo Malone and Jo Loves?
It is a different creativity. One business was 20 years ago. Life causes you to evolve and gain experience. I think I'm much more of a risk taker now than 20 years ago, and that's because I've already been around the block. I don't have to worry where my risks will take me at the moment. But I think when you look at both brands, you know that I've created them because I have that really strong signature - that spine of wood with citruses running around it.
the fragrances that I create have A VERY STRONG IDENTITY.
Your scents definitely stand out now even more so now that you've created a new concept, the candle shot. Tell me about it...
I love candles. I always burn them around the house. I have twenty-five candles burning across three floors. In the summer, we have a beautiful terrace that is surrounded with eucalyptus and olive trees and I burn 75 candles — some scented, and some are not.
I had this idea, I was in New York City and I had just taken my son to Toys 'R' Us in Times Square - he made me go on the merry-go-round. I usually get motion sickness, so when I came out I had to get a coffee and a donut to make me feel better. I walked down the street and I saw this long cue and I thought: "What is going on in there?" So I went to go have a look and it was pop tart studio. They were making custom-made pop tarts. You could buy a box and add raspberries or whatever you wanted. So I sat there for about a half hour or so and I thought I want to do that with candles. I want to custom make candles for people so they can be apart of the creative process. That's where the candle shot idea came from. You choose the base, you choose the shots, and then we burn and melt the two to become one.
Speaking of the region... What are your expansion plans?
Am I going to open a store in the region? In the last two days I have had more offers than I could have imagined. When I first came to Dubai 20 years ago, Dubai was not on my top 10, but now it's in my top 3. Dubai can take risks with retail, where as New York can't. Dubai has space. It's not only the Middle East that is influential; it's the whole world.
What's next for Jo Loves?
I'm launching a book in October. I just finished the last chapter on the sunbed down there. When I first started writing this book, I said: "People can't read my story, they know me by my sense of smell. I can't write a book and not have people engage in it". My publishers said that it would be seen through the story telling. I told them that I wanted to scent the book, and they told me that it has been never done before. Finally, about a month ago, they told me that it could be done. I'll be the first person to ever scent a book. So now, not only will they read the book, they'll want the scent too.
Congratulations! That is so exciting.
You are also known for your groundbreaking and directional ability to create something that is different. Obviously your book is an example of that. What is it that gives you that ability to create something new and different?
I don't do it to be new and different. This was never about building a new brand or a new job for me, this was about the love that I have for the industry and the way it loves me. It's about the journey and the adventure that calls you to create a product that changes the world.
Jo Loves is now available exclusively in the Middle East on Net-a-Porter.com.