LONDON — Jo Malone London is taking its social mission more seriously, naming Adwoa Aboah as its new global ambassador.
The British fragrance brand, which belongs to The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., described Aboah as “our first cause-related ambassador,” and said she’ll be “bringing the mental health awareness work we have been involved in for the past decade to the forefront.”
Aboah will also be the face of the brand’s English Pear & Freesia fragrance and star in the campaign, which has been photographed by Tim Walker. It will be released later this year.
The appointment of Aboah is a pivotal moment for Jo Malone London, and highlights the brand’s intensified focus on social issues and mental health. The brand has had global ambassadors before, however, their focus has been more on product and marketing rather than on social issues.
Model Poppy Delevingne was the British brand’s first ambassador, or Jo Malone London Girl, while Karen Elson has also represented the company and starred in past campaigns. John Boyega became Jo Malone London’s first male ambassador in 2019, and left a year later.
Aboah is as well known for her social activism and mental health advocacy as she is for modeling.
Her site, Gurls Talk, which launched in 2015, represents “a safe space for young women and girls” to discuss issues surrounding mental and physical health, sexuality and well-being. The community-led, nonprofit platform offers live events, a podcast series and helplines to call.
Aboah is a popular figure in Britain: She won Model of the Year at the Fashion Awards in London in 2017; has served as a BFC Ambassador for Positive Fashion, campaigning for models’ health and diversity within the industry, and was on the cover of Edward Enninful’s first issue of British Vogue.
Wandjina Glasheen-Brown, creative director, Jo Malone London, described Aboah as “unapologetically herself. She is intelligent, generous and compassionate. She knows the importance of telling her own story and has navigated her own path, never shying from difficult and taboo subjects, but encouraging honesty and openness, aiming to create a community that cultivates kindness and support.”
“It is this drive for inclusion, passion for mental health awareness and her embodiment of our brand values of kindness, humility and optimism that make her not only the perfect fit, but an asset to our Jo Malone London family,” she said.
Aboah said she’s grateful for the new partnership “as it puts mental health at the forefront of our collaboration. We seriously align in our passions. I’m really excited to challenge tradition by attracting new audiences to Jo Malone London because of the values it champions.”
She said she wants people to know about the work that the brand has been doing for mental health charities for years “and allow people to feel part of something.”
Jo Malone London supports its social work through the sales of the Charity Candle collection.
For each Charity Home Candle sold in the U.K. and Ireland, Jo Malone Limited donates 75 percent of the retail price to support individuals and families affected by mental health problems through dedicated projects.
Among its beneficiaries is Black Minds Matter U.K.; Martineau Gardens in Birmingham, England; and St Mungo’s, one of the U.K.’s leading homelessness charities.
Asked during an interview why she decided to team with the brand, Aboah said that, at first, she didn’t think she was a natural fit, “but then I did my own investigating, and saw the photographers and stylists they were using, and the imagery and how cool it was. They work with Tim Walker and Shona Heath, and they advertise themselves in a creative way.
“That was something fresh to me — and they immediately let me have my opinions, and allowed me to be included in a creative way. It felt like a refreshing partnership. They take mental health seriously and have been doing the work for so long. And I’m able to bring Gurls Talk fully into the mix of what we are going to do together,” she said.
Aboah added that she and the brand are going to be doing events in an “untraditional” way. “The backbone of our partnership is mental health, and it will be a large part of what we do and the community that we want to include.”
Going forward, there will be panel discussions and community-based events from the brand side, and from the Gurls Talk side. “The messaging is one of beauty and mental health. There are lots of exciting things that we’re going to be doing together,” she said.
Aboah said the timing for the partnership, and for the acceleration of her work with Gurls Talk, could not be better. “There is a direct link between isolation and mental health issues, depression and anxiety. I don’t think we’ve even seen how detrimental these last couple of years have been,” due to pandemic-related lockdowns.
She said COVID-19 generally has brought to light “so many different ways of thinking about mental health,” and that over the past few years, people from the sports, film, TV and fashion industries “have been speaking about it in a more nuanced way.”
Gurls Talk has continued to operate throughout the pandemic, but suffered from the inability to do live events, although it is revving up once again in the U.S., where the brand has recently been designated as a nonprofit organization.
Aboah said it has launched a pilot mentorship, advocacy and activism program in the U.S. with a group of girls from across the U.S. who meet on the first Saturday of every month.
There are different speakers who talk about topics ranging from grief to gender to race. That program will extend to the U.K., Aboah said, once the platform gets charitable status in the country.