News Challenge Your Limits Week: Jo Fairley 12.03.2020

Challenge Your Limits Week 2020  opened with a talk on a subject dear to every Godolphin girl’s heart: chocolate! We were delighted to be joined by Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black’s, voted the ‘coolest food brand’ in the UK, and the first to carry the UK Fairtrade mark. Jo explained how the Green & Black’s story began when she found two pieces of dark chocolate on her husband’s desk (Jo’s husband was the founder Whole Earth Foods). A chocoholic, Jo was smitten at first bite and was encouraged by her husband to invest the proceeds from her recent flat sale to start up the business. A journalist and editor with a strong social conscience (Jo left school aged 16 before becoming the youngest magazine editor at just 23) Jo described how she dared to care and ‘went to the edge of the diving board, jumped off and never regretted it’.

Jo recounted how she used her journalistic, PR and marketing skills to develop her brand of ‘Guilt-free chocolate; well almost!’ and utilised her network of press contacts and celebrity chefs to develop Green and Black’s into the £100 million a year brand that it is today. Jo’s journey was one of resilience and determination and she was inspired by the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick’s ‘doing good is good for business’ to develop a brand with a strong social purpose. When Green & Black’s started there was no secondary education in the communities that provided the cocoa beans; today, 90% of the children go to school and the women are financially empowered. 

It was an inspiring talk and the girls took away important messages about imposter syndrome; being the calm in the eye of the storm; the importance of having a mentor and of being kind; and of doing something that you really enjoy. Jo urged the girls to ‘always be a willing intern: they are the ones who get the job’. She also emphasised the importance of personal wellbeing saying ‘you’re no good to anybody if you’re running on empty’.

The talk was followed by a question and answer session for Year 11 students and Jo awarded prizes – Green & Black’s chocolate of course! – for the two best questions. Congratulations to Flo Brooke with her probing question ‘You left school at the age of 16. How do you think this helped, or didn’t help, your career?’; and Zara Sharif who asked ‘Have you experienced gender inequality in your career?’.

Thank you to Jo for answering all of the questions so honestly and for such a fabulous talk to begin Challenge Your Limits Week 2020!