Perfume mogul Jo Malone still regrets lock-out sale clause
Fragrance entrepreneur Jo Malone has not stepped foot in the boutiques bearing her name since stepping aside from the business seven years ago.
Ms Malone, who will address the iFactory Celebration Conference, toasting companies from the border counties in Londonderry tonight, said she regretted a lock-out clause in the 2006 sale of her business to Estee Lauder preventing her working with fragrance for five years.
"I would never do that again. But whatever I do now, I know I can never walk away from the creation of fragrances because it completes me and makes me whole.
"I could never do a lock-out where I was prevented from making things again. That made me unhappy."
The American cosmetics giant first bought into the business in 1999. Malone remained as creative director and chairwoman before stepping aside completely in 2006, a few years after receiving successful treatment for breast cancer.
There are now Jo Malone boutiques in 28 countries, including House of Fraser in Belfast's Victoria Square. But their creator said: "I have never been into a Jo Malone since I left. At the time it was too painful. I couldn't even walk around department stores where there were cosmetics because I could not create any more."
Even the sight of a bottle of scent could trigger her tears because she was banned from fragrance work, she said.
But Ms Malone has since set up a new fragrance business, Jo Loves, with one shop in London – on the site of a delicatessen, where she worked as a teenager.
While factory techniques have changed since she started to work in fragrance the first time round, she said she still creates her scents at her kitchen table.
Ms Malone, who started up in business in 1994, said she was looking forward to speaking to businesses at the iFactory Awards.
"37% of businesses fail in their first year and we need to encourage those people," she said.
She said she wanted to stimulate the "undiluted creativity" of those who would be listening.
Adding that she wanted to remind businesses of their importance to the economy.
"Jobs are not created in Downing Street but within businesses, and businesses are created by entrepreneurs. If one person creates one job in their business, and 100,000 other businesses follow them, that's 100,000 new jobs. If people did that, that's how our economy will pick up."
As to whether she would sell again, she said: "At this moment in time, I wouldn't. And if I ever did, I could never leave the industry again like I did before."
While being barred from fragrance for five years was a deep regret, leaving was the right move at the time, she said. "Somebody said to me, you might have made more money but to me I enjoyed what I did and it was the right place and the right time. I'd just fought cancer. I felt I wouldn't be around forever and I didn't want to be travelling around the world opening stores, but I wanted to have memories of life.
"I made those decisions then based on what I knew at the time. Ten years on I would have approached it very differently but that's life and what it teaches you."