Q & A: Jo Wood, founder of Jo Wood Organics

Jo Wood
The eco-beauty businesswoman on why she loves all things organic, the secret of creating a heavenly fragrance and training for Strictly Come Dancing

What campaigns or environmental groups do you most actively support?

I try to do as much charity and environmental campaigning as my busy schedule allows. Earlier in 2009 I went to Bangladesh with the People Tree Foundation to learn more about ethical and fair trade fashion and how this helps improve local communities. It was an amazing experience and I am also an ambassador for the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. I also support WWF, Macmillan Cancer Care, Tusk Trust, Breast Cancer Care and Action Aid to name a few.

Favourite food? Cooked by whom?

My favourite food has to be something that I've dug up from my garden. I'd like it cooked by the great Arthur Potts Dawson, who I worked with on my pop-up restaurant 'Mrs Paisley's Lashings' earlier this year. I love anything that Arthur cooks.

Can you describe a typical day?

My days are usually jam-packed, but at the moment they are much busier than usual as I have to allow for all my training for Strictly Come Dancing.

I get up early in order to touch base with the office and run through the day ahead. I have interviews lined up, product samples to try, meetings to schedule. We are busy planning our 2010 sales forecast for Jo Wood Organics and launching the brand internationally.

I start the day with sheep's yoghurt as I think it is really important to line the stomach with probiotics, honey, flax seed and mesquite meal. I then have a morning workout & stretch with my trainer. At the moment my ankle is playing up so this is important for me with all the dance moves I'm having to learn. Or I'll have a swim.

Then it's off to training I go. Brendan and I have been doing four hours a day, which we then have to follow with TV appearances, interviews and events. I make my own packed lunch every day to ensure I'm eating a good organic meal to keep me going throughout the day, as keeping energy levels up is really important. Then it's home to my PJs and to have a final catch up on emails and with the office.

When and why did you turn to an organic lifestyle?

I turned to an organic lifestyle in 1989 after I was misdiagnosed with Chrones Disease. I met a wonderful herbalist who sat me down and told me all about pesticides in food and how they break down our immune systems and he introduced me to organic farming. I've never looked back, for me this is just common sense.

Our bodies are amazing machines and we should be looking after them by putting the best fuel possible in them. I always say you wouldn't put cheap fuel in a Formula 1 racing car, so why treat your body as second best? After I had learnt all about organic food it was a natural progression that led me into organic beauty, cleaning products, and to campaigning for a more sustainable world.

What's the secret of why your JWO range smells so heavenly?

I spent 2 years getting the formulations perfect for my range, I originally thought it would only take 6 months but so much love, care and patience went into the planning. Developing products is a very creative process, and also very technical, so I worked with an amazing cosmetologist, Dr Colette Haydon who helped bring my ideas to life.

The products smell so heavenly because I've worked with a fragrance house down in Grasse to develop four wonderful organic fragrances which run through my products. The fragrances are called Amka, Usiku, Tula & Langa which are all African names. The fragrances all have a top, middle and base note which change on the skin as you wear the fragrance, and the formulations are very sophisticated due to how the fragrance is blended with all the other actives and ingredients.

What is your favourite scent in the world?

I love the scent of lilies, jasmine, tuberose, frangipani, sophisticated white floral fragrances... but my fragrance really changes with the season. I've never stuck with one fragrance.

How did you manage to create a 95 per cent organic perfume? It must have been a struggle...

It was hard to make an organic perfume and that is where Colette steps in again. Instead of using water in my fragrance I have used organic orange water which is biocompatible with water in human skin; the water is filtered from organic oranges which are grown in Italy. The alcohol we use is derived from grapes, so it is from a natural source too.

My products are certified organic with Ecocert, who are the leading organic certification organisation for beauty products. Ecocert have strict guidelines which we have to follow in development which outline what ingredients we can and can't use and the kind of packaging we have to source. All our suppliers have to be certified organic and our ingredients have to farmed organically. Everything has to be traced and traceable.

What's your favourite item in the range?

At the moment my Exfoliating Salt Scrubs. They are currently available in either my Tula or Langa fragrances and they are formulated with Dead Sea salt and oil to help remove dead skin cells and nourish the skin. I'm proud to say they keep winning awards too, so that's a great recognition from the beauty industry and my loyal customers too.

Where are you most happy?

I love being at home with my family. I've been fortunate enough to travel the world but I love just chilling at home, spending time in the garden and watching my grandchildren grow up.

How do you keep fit?

I work out with my trainer 3 times a week, I swim, and I cycle and run around Richmond Park.

What one book or film would you recommend all politicians should read/see?

Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'

What's your life philosophy in a nutshell?

Love your planet, go organic!



Jo Wood Organics are offering Ecologist readers a 20 per cent discount on all their products. Just click on the link here, to get your exclusive promotion code.


Laura Sevier is the Ecologist's Green Living Editor

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