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How We Met: Liz Earle & Jo Fairley

'We both fundamentally believe that you can change the world by the way you do business'

Rhiannon Harries
Sunday 21 June 2009 00:00 BST

Liz Earle, 46, is a former beauty journalist and TV presenter and the founder of Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, a range of products based on natural ingredients. She has written more than 30 books on beauty. She lives in the West Country with her husband and four children

Jo and I orbited each other for years when we were beauty journalists. I was always aware and in awe of her, since she'd been the youngest-ever editor of a women's magazine. Even then, she was a big name and I was just starting out, so if I am honest I was a little bit intimidated the first time I spoke to her, but she was incredibly friendly and we sensed in each other a like-minded being.

Once we started talking about environmental issues, we bonded very quickly. I was writing about organics 15 years ago, when green was a colour not a political statement, and now people classify both Jo and I as "greenies" and ethical entrepreneurs, but I don't think it's been a case of either of us of waving a big green flag. It's just about doing the things we love in the best way possible; if you're passionate about something, you want to do it right.

Jo was fundamental in the creation of my business. I was approached to start a skincare line and, in the early days, I had a conversation with her. She had just started the Green & Black's chocolate range with her husband and she told me how amazing it was to create something tangible that other people can physically enjoy, rather than writing words which can be discarded. It struck a chord.

The great thing about Jo is that she is always very frank and tells it how it is. It did mean I was very nervous when I showed her my first range because I knew she wouldn't spare my feelings. She is probably my harshest critic.

I love Jo's sense of humour – her face opens into this great smile when she laughs. I've just given her some eye cream to help with the laughter lines, in fact, but we always say we would rather have the wrinkles than never laugh. We have similar attitudes to beauty and don't view ageing as a disease that needs to be cured, just as something inevitable that you can choose to do with good grace, humour and health.

If we get together for a day it is usually a mixture of very girly activities involving beauty treatments, some vintage-clothing retail therapy, organic food and a glass or two of antioxidant-rich red wine. We will sit in her beautiful garden and chat about business and what's going on in the world while she wanders about in immaculate white linen gathering cuttings with an enormous straw sun hat on. It's at moments like that I feel our bond is at its strongest.

Jo Fairley, 53, is a journalist and the co-founder of Green & Black's, the world's first organic chocolate company. She is co-author of 'The Green Beauty Bible' and owns the organic bakery Judge's and the Wellington Natural Health Centre in Hastings, where she lives with her husband Craig Sams

Liz and I met in the early 1990s when we were both beauty editors. She had been one for longer than me; I'd previously written about everything from sumo wrestling to Romanian orphans and then someone asked me to write about beauty.

After that, everyone wanted me to, because, like Liz, I had a more questioning approach than the average person who had come up through the beauty cupboard and tended to take everything at face value.

We were always part of a small group that sat in the front row at press launches and asked awkward questions. Budgets were generous then, so there were lots of Eurostars to Paris and trips to the South of France. During a busy launch period you spend more time with other journalists than with your family, so you soon find your friends among them.

What I have always loved about Liz is her calmness; she is like liquid Valium. I don't think I have ever seen her get flustered. At worst you can see her get a little steely, but I have never once seen her lose it and that rubs off on those around her.

I think both Liz and I fundamentally believe that you can change the world by the way that you do business. We've both managed to be successful while maintaining a philanthropic side and giving pleasure to huge numbers of people, and both inspire a sort of slavish devotion. Every time someone finds out who I am they immediately say, "Oh – Maya Gold!", or whatever their favourite flavour may be, and it's the same for Liz's products.

I wrote the first bit of press coverage for Liz's range and, when I went to interview her, I was incredibly flattered that she said she had been inspired to do it by what I'd done with Green & Black's. I think she would agree that the original packaging was ghastly – I told her in quite a kind way and she got the message very quickly – but I was never in any doubt about what was in the jar.

My favourite memory of Liz is her on her wedding day. She had one of the most beautiful weddings I have been to – she is a very sensory person and I remember that day through scent as much as a sight. There were rose petals everywhere and candles in every alcove. And then this vision walked in to meet Patrick, her husband, who looked incredibly dashing. It still makes me emotional thinking about it now.,

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