19.09.1942 – 18.02.2021
It was with great sadness that the family of Jim Jackson announced that he had died in hospital in Bergerac, France on February 18th, 2021.
Jim died, leaving behind him Jill, his adoring wife and companion of 45 years; Andrew, his dear son of whom he was so proud, his daughter in law, Kate; Holly, his only granddaughter, to whom Jim was an icon known as Mog; his niece Daisy and his nephew Ben. And his faithful and loving dogs, Honey and Jack, whom he loved.
Many people know Jim’s story (he was never backward in telling it!). He was born in humble, even disadvantaged circumstances, during the Second World War. Despite this lack of advantage, he became a chorister and passed the 11+ before going on to grammar school. There, he was spotted by a clear-sighted master and was recommended to Unilever as a talent they might be able to develop. He became the youngest advertising manager in Unilever Port Sunlight and sat exams to enable him to develop a career in this field.
He embraced every opportunity and used his natural ability to learn, improve and develop himself. He was supported during this time by excellent managers and in due course, he was enrolled in a management training scheme before being sent around the world to learn about exporting, as well as developing marketing plans for Unilever’s subsidiaries. He lived in Nigeria for two years as part of that programme and on his return, moved to Unilever House, Blackfriars to work for Unilever Export. His career with Unilever led to him being a General Manager with UAC, with responsibility for developing young marketing talent in overseas subsidiaries of Unilever.
His skills acquired during his career stood him in good stead when, together with Jill, he founded what is now known as Aspects Beauty Company. He never forgot the disciplines he acquired nor his absolute faith in young, bright, creative, talented people - something that has been a hallmark of his approach at Aspects.
Everyone will remember how he dominated a room with his laugh, his wit, his sense of humour. How he loved a party. How he believed that the day the fun stops is the day to give up. How he made sure that celebration was part of life at Aspects. Of course, his temper was also legendary. That was usually as a result of being let down by someone he expected better from though he always forgave the slip with a hug or a smile or a wink later.
His support for employees, their family life, their sense of self-worth and achievement, their loyal service or their exceptional contribution was unstinting. He did things differently, but he did them with an open heart and a generosity which was unsparing. He never forgot how hard it was for him to achieve his success, remembering the support he received from his managers when he started out.
He refused to agree to anything that smacked of corporate culture. He was proud of the joy people found in working with the company and his influence on how they were rewarded was always evident.
To his brand owners, he was a huge person – a good negotiator, but one that always passionately believed in collegiate partnership rather than a contractual relationship. He insisted that all brands were treated by the company as though they belonged to the company, with an absolute respect for brand owners’ interests as a guiding principle.
To his suppliers, he was always fun but fair in agreeing terms or conditions. He made firm friends with many of them, as evidenced by the messages of support received from them.
And to his retailers, he will never be forgotten! His means of achieving the best outcome for the brands the company represented was often maverick, but always tried to respect retailer requirements. That sense of fairness is a legacy which everyone in the company recognises.
Jill relied on Jim’s pride in her and he supported her in the many initiatives that she proposed throughout the 32 years of the company’s existence. Through the ups and downs of the history of the company, he was resolute in that support, even when he had well founded reservations!
Andrew remembers how, having joined the company in 1991 and working his way through almost every department, Jim was determined that he should see the good and the bad of entrepreneurial experiences. It was an extremely proud moment for Jim when Andrew was appointed to the Board of the company.
Indeed, Jim’s support of the entire Board was absolute as it expanded its membership to younger directors. Many of whom, like him, started work from “shop floor” backgrounds and grew in the company to positions of seniority and responsibility. He encouraged their development and was thrilled by the Board’s evident expertise throughout the recent upheaval caused by Covid and Brexit.
Jim’s character moulded Aspects’ character. His legacy is one which will continue to govern the culture of the company for years to come.
Equally, he supported organisations, clubs and charities with enthusiasm. Lewes Rugby Club Colts and latterly the Ladies’ team had his adoring attention. For many years he was President of Chailey Bonfire Society, helping to raise funds for children and seniors in the village of Chailey. He and Jill financially support a small school educating the children of agricultural labourers in rural Rajasthan and last year started a scheme to personally sponsor a girl and a boy each year to help them into further education. Additionally, he donated to charities which enabled UK specialist surgeons travel to Africa to train surgeons in their own countries.
Friends and family who received Jim’s support are legion. From encouragement, reinforcement for ideas, financial support, loving bullying (“shape up” was a familiar refrain!), provision of accommodation in times of need, protection when required, organising transport when stranded, arranging treats and surprises, laying on entertainment to celebrate or commiserate, dispensing advice or sympathy – he was overwhelmingly generous with his time. He would drop everything to help someone in need. He never forgot how important help and support was to him in his early years.
Jim’s desire to level the playing field in life and improve the chances of those who may have been disadvantaged in some way, forms the inspiration for the establishment of The Jim Jackson Foundation. This soon to be formed charity will be dedicated to supporting young people wishing to enter the world of business, as Jim himself was supported in the early days of his career.
To his family and friends, his warmth, love, adoration, encouragement, pride, fun-loving and sheer big heartedness will remain wrapped around their hearts forever and will shine as a beacon, an example, by which they will all live.