Anyone suffering from a bout of lockdown fatigue, could certainly take a leaf out of perfumer Jo Malone’s motivational playbook. Having sold her namesake brand to Estée Lauder in 1999 after completing treatment for breast cancer, Malone could have easily bowed out of the fragrance business altogether. Instead, she founded a new brand, Jo Loves, and a boutique at 42 Elizabeth Street.
Malone isn’t slowing down amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Chatting over the phone from her nearby Chelsea home, Malone advises that we should all be looking at the things we do have, and enjoying life in a different way. “We can’t sit for six months and cry everyday,” she says.
“I think the way to get through this is routine and discipline. Don’t let one day bleed into the other – make sure each day you’ve got something that you’re working towards and creating to focus your mind.”
Malone’s new schedule revolves around cooking lunch and dinner, not just for herself and husband Gary, but also for the couple’s teenage son who has returned to the family home to quarantine from university in America.Mother and son have remarkably only had two big fallouts in eight weeks of isolation, which “isn’t bad”, jokes Malone.
“I just think when else would you have this kind of time with your 19-year old son again? When this is all over, he’s going to be like a rabbit out of a trap! Yesterday, we had our Sunday lunch on the terrace and talked about life, and those are moments to be treasured.”
Taking the rough with the smooth, Malone admits to losing the plot somewhat in week three, but swiftly finding herself again. “I have a fragrance which I wear all the time, called Grapefruit, which people know is part of me and part of my character. Last night, when I had a terrible anxiety attack at 2am, I covered my sheets in Grapefruit cologne and felt a sense of wellbeing and calm returning.”
It is a scent from a new collaboration with Zara, however, that will remind Malone of the lockdown period.
“I adore the Waterlily Tea Dress candles. They’re not very expensive and I’ve been burning them so much that the scent will really remind me of this time. It’s a very clean and crisp smell.”
The newly-launched collection for Zara is available to buy online, and likewise the Jo Loves website is very much open for business and “thriving”, Malone happily reports. “When you take a situation like this, you have to think very differently and do it quickly,” she advises.
Luckily, the agile Jo Loves team had been working on new website anyway for a solid 18 months, which was just about to launch when London locked down. “It hit at just the right time and we were able to get it running. If this had happened last year, we wouldn’t have been ready.”
Malone is nevertheless thinking ahead to a welcome return to the bricks and mortar of Elizabeth Street. “We’re going to need all our shopkeepers when this is over,” she says. “I’m so proud of our street – it’s been so community-orientated. Mauro [Sanna] from Oliveto has been delivering pizzas to NHS staff – he’s such a good man. And I go and see Shilpa from the pharmacy every week – she’s doing such an incredible job. All the food shops on Elizabeth Street have really helped keep the community together.”
While Malone has been working hard over Zoom – “I’ve probably created four years’ worth of fragrance already!” – she admits to missing human contact.
“I’ve always got a mask on, and when I walk my dog I’ve got my head down. There’s a couple of people I’ll say good morning to, but I miss that intimacy of having a conversation.”
With her husband being high risk, Malone only ventures out once a week for grocery shopping. “I get really anxious and I Dettol everything when I get home before I put it away.”
Hence why, when things get back to more of the norm, she says: “I just want to get out there and be a person again. We have really come together as people – there is so much good around, I hope we don’t lose that appreciation and love once this is over. This is time that no-one is ever going to have again, and it’s a real opportunity to invest in creativity.”
Speaking of the future, Malone is looking forward to visiting a few places close to her heart.
“I can’t wait to go and sit in one of my favourite places on earth in the south of France just outside of Grasse. There is a little restaurant where you can watch artists painting and the world going by. I can’t wait to ride horses in Montana again, as the ranch has now been closed this year. But I don’t actually really want to jump on plane – I want to go and see my best friends and have Sunday lunch in their garden.”
Words by Cally Squires
From the June 2020 edition of Belgravia magazine by Publishing Business