The first for obvious reasons is Jo Malone. I admire and have actually read quite a bit about the beginnings of this company before it was sold to Estee Lauder. Below is part of her story that inspires me every.single.time:
"When she left school she worked in a florist's, but when her mother became ill, Jo took over her clientele, building up the list from 12 to 2,000. She was amazing facialist, by all accounts, and it's said that the very grand would send private jets to whisk her abroad and back, just for the touch of her fingers.
Her first fragrance was Nutmeg & Ginger (still a bestseller), which she combined in a bath-oil as a thank-you gift to her clients. I'm so dumb about scents that I ask how you get the smell out of a nutmeg, imagining there is a big machine that squeezes it really hard.
She kindly takes me through the chemical replication of "living" fragrances, which is how it is all done. I ask whether there are any delicious smells that are impossible to reproduce. "Bluebells," she says, "and sweet peas. I love the smell of sweet peas and I've tried for years and years and years...." She just has a knack for scent. "I know I have ability and a gift. I don't know how I do it. If I were to sit and study it maybe it would disappear, so I just do it."
Her Nutmeg & Ginger wowed all the people who are wowed by such things. Many returned, begging for more. By this time she was married to Gary, a surveyor, who encouraged her to rent premises in Chelsea, develop more fragrances, open her first little shop. They initially manufactured enough stock for two years. They were sold out in six weeks. And the rest is pretty much history, including, in 1999, a buy-out from Estée Lauder said to be worth between £5m and £10m." For the entire interview click here.
In part of the interview it is explained that Jo Malone sees in fragrance and has one of the best "noses" in the business. You see I also see in fragrance however I cannot abide artificial or synthetic fragrances which is why I only blend all natural scents. I can ALWAYS smell when a fragrance is synthetic and I also tend to get Migraines if I am around too many synthetic fragrances at once. Her story pushes me because she started small and built her business one brick at a time.
Stay tuned for the two other people/businesses that inspire me later this week.