Leaving school at 16 with six ‘O’ Levels, through hard work and determination Jo Fairley went on to become the UK’s youngest-ever magazine editor, setting out on her entrepreneurial journey in 1991 when she co-founded Green & Black’s Chocolate, now approaching a £100 million a year brand. (Listen to Jo’s story here as she talks to Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs.)
Green & Black’s was born in a recession. As a result, she is well-placed to help and inspire other companies during difficult times. ‘It made us lean, agile, quick-thinking and creative. Those are the very skills that businesses need, moving forward. In addition, we had strong values embedded in our company’s DNA from the word ‘go’ – and as we navigate the waters of a pandemic, many, many more individuals are opting to support businesses which show they care – about people and planet, as well as profit.’
The success of Green & Black's has enabled Jo to become a serial entrepreneur, via an award-winning organic and natural food store/bakery (Judges Bakery), The Wellington Centre (a boutique nine-room wellbeing centre) – both in her home town of Hastings – and most recently The Perfume Society, which sets out to help individuals develop their sense of smell via exploration of fragrance and the scented world.
In recognition of her work, Jo has received many awards for her own enterprise, including WorldAware Award and many Soil Association Awards (both for Green & Black’s and Judges Bakery). She has also received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Studies from Kingston University, and The Shackleton Medal for leadership and citizenship, from The Scottish Royal Geographical Society.
Jo has been involved in the judging of many different awards, bringing her wide experience to the judging process, including the RSPCA Good Business Awards, YOU/Clarins Dynamisante Woman of the Year Awards and the HSBC Business Thinking Awards.
Jo now travels the world speaking to audiences on sustainable business, leadership, women in business, change management and entrepreneurialism.