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Dame Anita Roddick

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Anita Roddick was born in 1942 in Littlehampton, England to Italian immigrant parents. She and her siblings worked at their parents’ café after school and on weekends. She originally trained as a teacher, but decided to travel Paris, Tahiti, Australia and South Africa. Upon her return to England, she met Gordon Roddick, had two children and married in 1970.

In 1976, Roddick started The Body Shop in to support her family while Gordon traveled the Americas on horseback. Roddick drew upon her experiences of female health and body rituals from her travels in pre-industrial communities. Known for recycling and refilling containers, Roddick attributes her environmental activism to the frugality of her childhood during which her mother continued behaviors made necessary by World War II. The Body Shop’s mission statement, “To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change,” is carried out through a corporate dedication to doing good, communicating environmental issues and Community Trade initiatives.

Within six months, Roddick had opened a second location and the return of her husband lead to the creation of a franchise network of growth. The company went public in 1984 and was purchased by L’Oreal in 2006. The Body Shop currently has more than 2,200 locations.

In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Anita Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her invaluable contribution of the United Kingdom’s economy.

In 2007 she announced that she had Hepatitis C, which she contracted from a blood transfusion in 1971 but was not diagnosed until 2004. She passed away in September 2007 and left her estate to charities.

Companies and Investments

The Body Shop (Founder), Children on the Edge (Founder)

Lessons Learned

A good story can make the difference.

Roddick didn’t spend time or money on a comprehensive advertising and marketing campaign when starting her business. Instead, she created a product that people not only liked, but that informed them of the world. In the original shop, Roddick emphasized natural, ethically sourced ingredients procured and tested in a cruelty-free manner.

A “socially responsible” company can be a wildly successful company.

Cause-related marketing, or “conscious consumerism” has proven successful to companies that came after The Body Shop set the example. A number of companies have built successful businesses using this model to gain a dedicated customer base. FEED Projects, which sells totes bags that raise money to fight famine across the globe and TOMS shoes which operates a popular “One for One” policy of donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased are prime examples such successes using Roddick’s model.

A great corporate narrative needs to match corporate actions.

The Body Shop suffered financial losses after its image was tarnished by perceived “hypocritical practices” such as the L’Oreal purchase. L’Oreal continues to test products on animals – a practice entirely at odds with The Body Shop’s mission statement and 1996 campaign that delivered 4 million signatures against animal testing to the European Commission. If

Inspiring Quotes

If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

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Dame Anita Roddick's Quotes

But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.

Dame Anita Roddick

There is no scientific answer for success. You’ve simply got to live it and do it.

Dame Anita Roddick

The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.

Dame Anita Roddick

Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.

Dame Anita Roddick

Influential Books

Mentors

Gilda Perella

References


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