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Desert Island Discs

300 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

34:19

Jo Malone

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the business woman, Jo Malone.

If her name automatically conjures the citrusy scents of lime, basil and mandarin or spicy notes of amber and lavender then you're doubtless one of the customers who flock into the eponymous stores to buy the products that have made her a household name.

Aged nine, she would grind sandlewood and strain juniper at the kitchen table. 17 years later fashionable London flocked to her little salon in Chelsea to be massaged with oils and unguents. In the 1990s the brand went international and the fragrance made her fortune when she sold the business.

If this all sounds like a fragrant little fairy tale, crisply wrapped in a signature black grosgrain bow, it isn't. Severely dyslexic she left school at 14. Her dad was a talented painter but a chronic gambler too, and home life was sometimes hand-to-mouth. Later, and at a time in her life when she should have been enjoying her success and her toddler son, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Finally fully recovered she decided to start again from scratch.

She says, 'I love sharing my story, and I'm not frightened of people seeing the cracks as well as the strengths. I think the things that are sad and difficult are just as important.'

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

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