Jo Malone on finding your calling, and the great advice she got from Oprah

The skincare guru talks about building a business, and following your passion.

September 18, 2018, 5:11 PM

Jo Malone's love of beauty began when she was just a little girl.

At 8 years old, she mixed her first face mask alongside one of London’s leading facialists, and has been immersed in the world of skincare and fragrance ever since.

“What I realized about myself was fragrance is not a business to me or my career, it’s my best friend,” she told ABC News.

On an episode of ABC Radio’s “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis,” Malone told ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis that learning about the industry at such a young age helped shape her identity.

“I believe that everybody in this world has a diamond about them, something that creatively is their diamond that will be precious in their life. Find it, seek it out, and then pursue it,” Malone said.

Countess Lubatti was the famed facialist who taught Malone the ins and outs of creating different skincare products. When the countess asked 8-year-old Malone to make sandalwood and rose facemasks, the child was up for the challenge.

“I learn fast and quickly. I’m never frightened to say I don’t know how to do something. Teach me, and then I master it very quickly and move on,” said Malone.

Malone followed her passion, and what began as a 12-client business (including Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York) eventually turned into an internationally acclaimed brand -- Jo Malone London. The company began to grow through personal recommendations.

“Word-of-mouth, no advertising. It was just me. I was the receptionist, I was the facialist, I was the chemist, and I was the bookkeeper. You name it.”

Malone quickly became a household name, catering to members of royalty from all over the world as well as film stars, pop stars, and models. In 1999, Malone sold her business to the Estee Lauder Companies and stayed on as creative director until 2006. She told Jarvis that she felt terrified walking away from the company she had built from the ground up.

“I left that business and I realized 48 hours running up to leaving that business that I was making the biggest mistake of my life.”

Looking back on that decision today, Malone believed it was necessary to make that “mistake” in order to explore new opportunities, and continue to challenge herself. She decided to do it all over again when she launched her new fragrance company, Jo Loves, in 2011. She also opened a store, and wrote a memoir, "My Story," in 2016.

Although taking risks has been important throughout her career, Malone added that she’s always valued some advice she got from Oprah Winfrey years ago, when Winfrey told her to “own everything you do.”

“Stamp your identity on everything you do. That has stayed with me, and that was probably one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever had,” Malone said.

Listen to more of this interview with Jo Malone on the "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis" podcast.