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Jo Fairley is one of the UK’s leading motivational speakers one of the UK's most successful Entrepreneurs. She shares the hugely inspirational story of the global ethical brand Green & Black’s. This is the company Jo created with her husband from scratch and her presentations deliver a real insight into how to create, launch, and grow a brand.
About Jo Fairley
Jo Fairley is a highly skilled speaker who shares her business insights with audiences across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and USA. She is also often able to supply chocolate for guests and delegates. Co-founder of Green & Black’s, Judges Bakery, The Wellington Centre (wellbeing and integrated health), Jo’s latest business is The Perfume Society.
Jo Fairley started Green & Black’s with just £20,000 of her savings, and grew into a brand worth $100 million worldwide. This was all done in less than 20 years. Despite its widespread global availability, Green & Black’s has retained its luxury cachet. And it was the only food brand to be featured in the UK’s CoolBrands Top 20.
Leaving school at 16 Jo Fairley went on to become the UK’s youngest-ever magazine editor editing first ‘Look Now’ and then ‘Honey Magazine’. She then became of the Mail on Sunday’s ‘YOU’ Magazine. Further more she contributed to a very wide range of publications including the new ‘National Geographic Green’.
Jo Fairley and why she created Green & Black’s
She then stepped out on her entrepreneurial journey in 1991 when she co-founded Green & Black’s Chocolate. A brand that today is close to an £100 million a year brand.
From its inception, Green & Black’s has also been an ethical brand, sourcing cocoa direct from Third World farmers who are paid a fair price. Green & Black’s was the first brand to be awarded the UK Fairtrade Mark with Maya Gold (in 1994). In addition, by the end of 2011, all the many bars and products in its chocolate portfolio will carry this certification.
Ever at the forefront, Jo was among the first to highlight the social responsibility of food producers. Green & Black’s immediately picked up awards for its entrepreneurial and ethical achievements. The fortunes of the Maya Indians in Belize, who grow the cocoa, have been transformed because of the company’s ethical treatment of its producers .
Jo shares the highs and lows of running such a business
How 20,000 young people carrying flaming torches lobbied supermarkets to stock Maya Gold, and the valuable news coverage it generated. Moreover she shares the white knuckle moments. Like what happens when cocoa beans are stuck in a volatile tropical country, the port blockaded. Or your major retailer is threatening de-listing unless the consignment is delivered on time?
In 2005, the brand was successfully sold to Cadbury’s but Jo Fairley remains in an ambassadorial role. She travels the world as the brand grows internationally in countries including the US and Australia. It’s also a business with corporate social responsibility in its DNA. Green & Black’s was the world’s first organic chocolate. Their Maya Gold bar was the first Fairtrade-marked product to be launched.
From its inception, Green & Black’s has also been an ethical brand, sourcing cocoa direct from Third World farmers who are paid a fair price. Green & Black’s was the first brand to be awarded the UK Fairtrade Mark with Maya Gold (in 1994), and in 2011 announced that by the end of 2011, all the many bars and products in its chocolate portfolio will carry this certification.
The success of Green & Black’s has enabled Jo to become a serial entrepreneur. This is via an award-winning organic and natural food store/bakery (Judges Bakery). And The Wellington Centre (a boutique nine-room wellbeing centre) They are both situated in her home town of Hastings. 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.
The Perfume Society
Jo’s latest business The Perfume Society has been described by Frederic Malle as ‘the most authoritative perfume website in the world. A go-to for information about perfume and ‘curated’ discovery boxes compiled in partnership with leading mainstream and niche fragrance brands. A way of ‘bringing the web alive’ for perfume-lovers, via its discovery boxes.’ It’s online/print magazine The Scented Letter, won its latest (sixth) Award in May 2019 from The Fragrance Foundation.
She also remains a working journalist and contributor to leading newspapers, websites and magazines. And she is author over 25 books including The Beauty Bible and Sweet Dreams: The Story of Green & Black’s.
Jo highlights the determination needed and the risks involved in building a business and exploiting a niche market. She also demonstrates the power of branding, how business can be both ethical and highly successful, and why you should never underestimate the intelligence of the consumer.
The tale of Green & Black’s has now become a blueprint for sustainable business everywhere. It is studied in business schools and and has been featured in countless newspaper stories. These include from ‘Newsweek’ to the UK’s ‘The Daily Telegraph’: a true, modern-day business adventure. Jo she has an exceptional understanding of brand creation and development and talent for sharing that experience and insightful knowledge.
With her background as a female entrepreneur and creator of Green & Black’s, Jo’s presentations deliver a real insight into how to create, launch and grow a brand. Green & Black’s was started with just £20,000 of her savings, and grew into a brand worth £100 million worldwide in less than 20 years. Despite its widespread global availability, Green & Black’s has retained its luxury cachet: it is the only food brand to be featured in the UK’s CoolBrands Top 20.
Jo’s presentations can address how ethical issues are becoming more important to consumers (over £500 million worth of Fairtrade goods will be sold in the UK per year alone) and how working for a company with a strong CSR programme can boost team spirit and dedication. She talks about the many lessons learned along the path to business success, including the emotional aspect of building a brand and then ‘letting go’, when it’s sold on, as well as the importance of design, branding, PR and marketing. (Jo remains an ambassador for Green & Black’s.)
"Jo did exactly what we wanted by rounding off the conference on a high, reminding the delegates of what it is we are all aiming to achieve and sending them off with a very positive message about business support and social impact. Seeing as Jo was our last speaker of the event, after a late event the night before, the audience could have been disengaged. However, she completely captivated the group with her story and she certainly received the biggest round of applause at the end of her session."
National Federation of Enterprise Agencies
"Just to say, Jo was wonderful. She pitched her story perfectly for our audience, speaking eloquently and with immense passion. As people left they said how inspired they were by Jo’s story. Particularly, she was incredibly approachable and gave everyone an opportunity to ask her questions whilst visiting the workshop tables. She was also very enthusiastic about the event and venue which contributed enormously to the positive atmosphere."
Major Management Consultancy Group of Women Executives
"The event went very well indeed. 1 hour and 5 minutes of extended talk, audience gripped throughout, then a very good 25 minute discussion and questions."
London Business Forum
"Jo delivered her vital message to our 6th form pupils in a refreshingly gentle and down to earth manner. She is no ruthless business person at all, and a fine example of how one can be successful without treading all over others. In fact her message about Fair trade positions her in the opposite role. Her message about ethical business was communicated very easily and she also introduced a real element of fun by offering stacks of Green and Blacks chocolate to the best female and male questioners! I would recommend her for 6th form events and it was especially helpful for girls to see a role model who had retained her dignity as a woman in high end business."
Business in Schools
"I was delighted to meet and listen to Jo Fairley at the Wonderful World of Field Conference in 2015. Jo is an engaging and accommodating speaker; she did a fantastic job of connecting with the audience, providing witty anecdotes and a history of her fascinating career which was highly relevant to attendees who were generally marketing and market research professionals. The breadth of her experience, business history, and hands-on background was beautifully described and held my, and the room’s interest throughout. She particularly talked about the processes gone through for the Beauty Bible, which had great similarities with our industry, and level of detail provided generated an enjoyable in depth discussion afterward."
Senior Fieldwork Manager – Acumen Fieldwork
"Jo Fairley is an exceptional as a speaker. She is confident, engaging, thoughtful and always thought-provoking. She makes the extraordinary tale of her business success seem so attainable – and that is what makes her truly inspiring"
Quality and Development Manager – Research Opinions
"From Green & Black’s to the Beauty Bible, Jo Fairley brought her vast knowledge and experience in business and delivered an excellent keynote speech. She has a natural charm and energy; and she has genuine enthusiasm for the ethics of her business practices. It was very refreshing to hear a talk which had such honesty, integrity and humour all combined in one. It was a speech to remember"
Associate Director – Update Field Services