We catch up with Jo Malone as she prepares to launch her brand new fragrance venture, JO LOVES.

There are some people for whom there are no barriers and Jo Malone is most certainly one of them. Raised on a council estate, she overcame her dyslexia to build one of the world’s most sought-after luxury fragrance brands, selling it to Estée Lauder in 1999 while beating an aggressive form of breast cancer along the way.

Awarded an MBE for services to the beauty industry in 2008, in 2010 she conceived of and presented High Street Dreams, a BBC One series in which she helped six small businesses realise their dreams of trading on the great British high street. This year will see her launch JO LOVES, a brand new fragrance venture that will once again test her famous creativity and entrepreneurial skills. But what drives Jo Malone? Where does her inspiration come from? And what is the secret to her world-class fragrances? We caught up with her to find out more.

I create fragrances because… that’s my means of communicating. I think in fragrances and I’m very entrepreneurial, but building a business is a lot about hard work. You’ve got to have a great product and you’ve got to have a belief in that product.

I sold Jo Malone because… it was great deal and it was the right thing to do at that time. I felt we were growing at the rate of knots and it was a fantastic opportunity. It took me to a completely different level - but we were global before we sold to Estee Lauder and I’m glad we did that before selling.

I found it quite strange afterwards... I was fighting cancer at the time and came to the point where I had sold my company and didn’t know how long I had. But you come out of these sorts of life-changing situations and you see things differently.

There isn’t a magic ingredient in creating a successful fragrance… but you’ve got to have integrity and I’m always prepared to go out on a limb – funnily enough that’s probably the place in life that I feel most secure.

Creating a fragrance is about how I see life, colour, people… My brain works in a huge library of fragrance notes, so it’s like writing a piece of music – I take a note that captivates me and add character.

I love every aspect of creating a fragrance… all of it. We smelt 50 or sixty notes yesterday and I love it when we find something that really stirs me inside, but I also love the shops and the packaging and the PR. I’m very controlling though, so I’m very present every step of the way.

I very rarely wear just one fragrance… I love Chanel 19 and Diorella by Christian Dior and all the old-fashioned ones. I also love good men’s colognes – really sexy ones that are very classic and simple - like a good man’s suit – it’s exactly the same.

I conceived of High Street Dreams… to help entrepreneurial people who have ambition similar to my own. I feel passionate about business. There is so much entrepreneurial talent in Britain, but we need to start realising what we are capable of, teaching entrepreneurialism in schools and nurturing future entrepreneurs. The country will not get back on its feet unless people build businesses.

My entrepreneurialism came from… a survival instinct. I had to support my family from the age of 13 and some people say that the tougher things are, the more likely you are to find these things.

I don’t take for granted what I’ve got today… With JO LOVES, I’ve still got to start at the bottom and it’s still hard work. The world is going to be watching us as we launch and I’m a perfectionist, so I want it to be right.

I lived in a council house growing up but my mum always smelt fantastic… She wore JOY by Jean Patou or Ma Griffe by Carven, which, even if I smell it now, epitomises her more than anything. But, from a young age, I was always very perceptive to smell – whether it was a new puppy or the smell of freshly laundered sheets blowing on the washing line outside.

After I had chemotheraphy… my eyelashes never came back. I have a friend who runs a fake eyelash business called Flutter, so I always use those - I look awful without them!

My greatest fear is… having no purpose and not being able to create or fulfil my potential. But fear is a good way to motivate yourself and it stops you becoming arrogant – it’s a very healthy, natural emotion that helps you to keep your feet on the ground.

My husband says that… if there’s something in your life you don’t like, you can change the circumstances or change the mind-set and he’s absolutely right.

I’m not very computer literate… but I love J Crew’s website because it’s ever-evolving and efficient and there’s always something there that I like.

Jo Malone MBE will announce The Good Web Guide’s Website of the Year 2011 at this year's Awards Reception in London during Global Entrepreneurship Week (14-20th November 2011).  To find out more about JO LOVES, visit www.joloves.com.

Interview by Emily Jenkinson

16th September 2011