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The smell of success
02:48 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time – remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in all areas of business, the arts, sport, culture, science and more.

Story highlights

Meet Jo Malone, the woman behind the eponymous fragrance company

Sold business to Estée Lauder in 2006 in reported multi-million dollar deal

Five years later started new company, Jo Loves, selling luxury fragrance goods

Left school as a teen to care for mother, started creating fragrances at home

CNN  — 

Jo Malone must have one of the most lucrative noses on the planet.

The British entrepreneur’s ability to create delicate scents – apparently coveted by everyone from the Duchess of Cambridge to Jennifer Lopez – helped her create a multi-million dollar fragrance empire.

Today her name is synonymous with luxuriously scented cream-colored candles with minimalist black trim, delivered in an oversized carrier bag.

Malone sold her namesake fragrance company to cosmetics giant Estée Lauder in 2006 in a rumored multi-million dollar deal, admitting “I hadn’t anticipated how much of my soul was in that business.”

Five years later she launched a new company – Jo Loves – which much like the original store, sells candles, bath oils, and perfumes, now with names like “Shards of Cedar and Red Thyme,” “Green Orange and Coriander,” and “A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango.”

But it wasn’t an easy journey to the top, and speaking to CNN’s Leading Women, Malone reveals how some of her biggest obstacles, also became her biggest sources of inspiration.

“I’m dyslexic so I wouldn’t be able to write you a letter or read you a paragraph. But I use my sense of smell like my eyes and hands. It’s something that happens naturally to me, so I would look at what you’re wearing, and who you are, and I would be translating it back into smell.”

“I left school in my early teens to take care of my mother. And I remember as a little girl, sitting in my bedroom and looking out the window and thinking: ‘I don’t want to live my life like this. I don’t want to live hand to mouth, frightened that there’s not going to be something to eat at the end of the day.’”

“Jo Malone wasn’t just a business… she was my best friend. She’d see me through the best and worst times of my life. I realized that it was like a child to me, and after I sold it I could see this business that I still felt a huge amount of emotion for but was not part of it. I would go to any store and touch the face cream and just had to leave.”

“When I fought cancer I didn’t know that I was going to come out the other end. And yet my mental attitude was that I would always find a point where I wanted to get to, and I’d head towards it.”

“If I had to choose a different career, I’d be a cook, a chef, and work with food. I love food and I love flavor. Everything that I smell, I want to be able to taste too.”

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