Jo Fairley (notes from a BBC interview)

In this post, there is a list of the advanced words and phrases from the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs interview with Jo Fairley. She is a very successful British entrepreneur and co-founded ‘Green & Black’s organic chocolate.   Aggie and I are currently creating a podcast (in which we will explain some of the words) and it will be launched on 11th October!

You can listen to the interview here:

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0:47 Helped make having a conscience cool (as cofounder or G+B) 

0:51 First organic chocolate and the first fairtrade product 

0:54 When it launched in 1991 

Already established a journalist + magazine editor 

1:01 She exchanged sifting through press releases looking for next big thing

Making sure her chocolate was on everyones’ lips - literally and 1:09  metaphorically 

1:11 Described as A serial entrepreneur

After success with G+B, 1:14 string of best selling beauty books, bakery, health centre, perfume subscription service 

Businesses made by putting one foot in front of the other 

Started with an order of 2 tonnes of chocolate and went from there 

1:37 You just roll up your sleeves and do it 


2 squares of chocolate on boyfriends’ desk

2:00 A taste explosion went off 

→ Asked him what it was and he said - the first organic chocolate in the world 

2:16 He had built a whole empire on no added sugar (Whole Earth Foods) 

She did PR and marketing, and financed it 

2:32 The really big catch was that I had to finance it

Had sold flat before moving in with him 

2:39 I had banked £20,000 in equity 

2:54 I literally gambled everything 

Had to ask bank manager to transfer the money, weirdly they want to know what you’re spending your own money on (!) and I had the delight of saying chocolate!

Quite a radical idea at the time

3:15 These days we’re quite used to the idea of posh, ethical purchases [LL]

3:20 But back in those days, it was very much in its own separate yurt wasn’t it?

Considered to be earth, shoes and lentils

First brand to make that leap from 3:20 eco niche to the 3:30 mainstream

3:31 I embarked on this because I thought it’d be a great adventure 


A heat wave!

3:54 Temperature went off the scale!

I had £20,000 worth of something that melted at 75 degrees

4:01 I could see my investment trickling down the M25 if I wasn’t careful! 

→ Had to go into controlled temp 


4:14 I am famously middle of the road 

4:25 It’s definitely funkier than my normal music taste

4:33 How our music tastes have melded over the years 


5:15 I had to be really strict 

Wouldn’t have marriage as well as a business so had separate offices 

5:27 We would catch up by having a walk around Notting Hill 

5:37 We were banned from talking about it until the next day 


5:57 Everything we did was very instinctive 

6:03 I wasn’t intellectualising about it “Is this right for the brand?”

Doing it as she felt it 

But, if she’d known she was eventually going to sell for millions then she’d be worrying more about figures and strategy 


6:24 I was no stranger to 18 hours 

(No money to pay herself) 

6:29 All of our money was tied up in stock from the very beginning 

Retained career as journalist !!! 

6:41 Juggled these two roles 


Credited as having made fairtrade fashionable 

Launched a bar that was not certified organic or fairtrade → Are we moving away from ... 

7:02 That kind of social responsibility

Cadburys have their own Project in West Africa, open about the fact that this was influenced by how we did business

Little company - small difference; big company - huge difference ! 


7:48 He’d be playing in the back of these restaurants 

The sound of Belize


Maternal Grandfather 

8:49 Built himself up to be a very successful entrepreneur 

Had a womens’ clothing factory in the East end, Lost everything during the war  

9:11 Most extraordinarily resilient man 

6 children 

Very inspiring 

3 younger brothers, father worked away 

Father was science editor for ITV, worked very hard 

9:39 Cut his teeth on the evening standard 

9:47 Science was exploding, space race was happening

10:03 We were quite a handful 

→ Where I got my leadership skills !

10:19 The busy bee club where you got fined if you weren’t doing something 

The Happy Club - Bob Geldof stole it for an album title (!)  

10:34 We were a gang, we were pretty chaotic 

10:42 Devoted her life to bringing us up 

10:49 She was a potter, an amateur potter 

VJPF “Very Junky Pottery Factory” 


From the Jungle Book, go and see films as a treat and get the album afterwards

Would spend the next few months acting it out, she’d be the director and also the star (!) 

Kids don’t get that kind of creative play anymore 

11:45 Putting on the Jungle Book for the family in the front room 


An only child so having 4 kids would be a bit of a shock 

12:47 Bit of distancing himself from the chaos 

12:57 Very convivial 

12:59 Bon viveur (French for ‘one who lives well’) 

13:00 Great host 

13:06 Our house became the family hub

13:12 We’d all congregate 

13:16 He adjusted to that very well 

Was having a very exciting time, felt a little bit a part of it 

Would bring presents, charms for bracelets, perfumes 

13:51 Very precociously, I had this sophisticated wardrobe full of fragrances


Fly me to the moon 

Father loved Sinatra, played at his funeral 


15.05   Were there signs of your entrepreneurial talents at school?

15.16  I dragged my heels to go there 

Was bored...knew that the world outside was more interesting

15.36 my anarchism wasn’t that bad

15.39   ...hoisting grey school knickers up the flag pole

15.46  . . . Tying dustpin lids to the boot of the headmistresses car with fishing line.

15.53 it’s enough to get you pigeonholed as troublesome, naughty….

16: 06 I never got the chance to reinvent myself at the age of 11 -  I was just labelled

16:20 There’s a defining moment in my life (future jobs - she said that she wanted to be a secretary. If you make so much as a girl Friday, I’ll eat my hat)

Became so determined then

Obsessed with magazines. 

17:32 I papered the inside of my wardrobe with pictures of places.

Creative visualisation. Lived the life that saw through Vogue


19:00 This is the quintessential ‘sad lady song’


20:08 “Don’t be so bloody wet”   What the editor said to her when she told him that she couldn’t write.

Was sent to interview movie stars, Charlton Heston, Joan Collins, Betty Davis

20:40 Were you very driven? (Youngest editor of a magazine in the UK)

21.11 I was catapulted into this role as a magazine editor

21:21 I suffered from the most enormous impostor syndrome

21:30 I bluffed it for the first month (with book of publishing terms)

23:48  I listen to my gut

24:18 You’re also cautious (still worked as a journalist in the early days of Green & Blacks)

24:22 It was just needs must

24.31 I got the chocolate out to lots of people

24.36 and trusted the fact that they would pick up on the fact that it was the most delicious chocolate

24.42 that was a real factor in our success


We loved each other to pieces (her and Paula Yates)


27:00 I just dealt with it

27:06  traumatic

28:12   There’s a great joy in just allowing kids to let rip (stage in their garden)

28.33 generative or stagnant

Likes to do things

28.50   deadheading 

Very curious


29:50   Orgasmic crescendo

30:04   They broke the mold when they made Craig

Very interested in eating unusual things


Chocolate not great in the heat!


32: 20   Wherever I go, I am able to go out like a light