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Anita Roddick - Founder of The Body Shop


Anita Roddick Founder of The Body Shop A rebel from the very beginning, Anita Roddick has managed to break all stereotypes and notions related to business. A non-traditional business woman who made it clear that she didn’t believe in the business rules that already existed and decided to make up her own rules of business success and entrepreneurship. Born in 1942, as a child of an Italian immigrant family in England, Anita Roddick was always an outsider, and as a result, was drawn to other outsiders and rebels. Dreaming of becoming an actress, Anita applied to Drama School but her application was turned down, which led her to become a teacher instead. However, as a passionate activist and dreamer at heart, the classroom could never hold Anita in it for too long. She quit teaching and started to travel the world where she met many people, was introduced to many cultures, and gathered many ideas along the way. Many of her travels where in third world countries where she met women who lived there, was introduced to their beauty and skin care and traditions, and how women of different cultures took care of and nurtured their bodies and hair. Back in England, she met Gordon Roddick, a poet from Scotland, and they married in 1970, and had two daughters together. It was obvious that Anita and Gordon were two kindred spirits who found their other halves in each other. Together, they were a couple of entrepreneurs who established their own bed and breakfast, followed by founding a restaurant. However, in 1976, Gordon shared his dream to ride a horse from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York. Anita was very supportive and even helped him by selling the restaurant they owned together. In Gordon’s time away, and for her and her daughter’s own survival, Anita founded the first ever “Body Shop” store in 1976 in a seaside resort in Brighton, England, where she painted the whole store in green to cover any damp spots on the walls. She founded the store with the $6,500 loan she obtained with Gordon's help, and contracted with a local herbalist to create her all-natural cosmetics to be sold in the store. At the beginning, the shop sold just a handful of creams and hair-care products; however, it proved to be a big success, which was further helped with Gordon’s arrival and help, leading the business to grow even more. Anita didn’t believe in traditional marketing and big advertising campaigns; she believed more in giving back to societies and campaigning moral, humanitarian, and environmental cases and issues. Surprisingly, people loved this about the “Body Shop” and it proved to be a very successful marketing technique attracting more and more customers all over the world. People loved buying the products of “The Body Shop”, due to the story of Anita herself, as well as the feeling that each product they bought will help in one humanitarian or environmental case or another. Anita and Roddick stepped down from managing the company in 2002, but they remained on as non-executive directors. Anita believed that the success of the Body Shop wasn’t just because of its new idea or products, but that timing played a huge role as well. The Body Shop was launched at the time when Europe was going 'green’, something that the body Shop called for and was reflected in almost everything they do, including the completely coincidental Green paint that covered their first shop’s walls. Moreover, when founding the shop, Anita believed in recycling and not throwing away containers just because they were empty; so, she encouraged her customers to bring their empty containers to re-fill them instead of throwing them away. Anita was unique from before she entered the business world; a passionate activist and dreamer who hoped to change the world with every shop they opened and every product they sold. 30 years after its founding, The Body Shop had over 2.045 stores serving over 77 million customers, in 51 different markets, in 25 different languages, and across 12 time zones. Anita Roddick passed away in 2007, at the age of 64 due to a brain hemorrhage, leaving behind a legacy like no other. Written by Yasmine Mokhtar

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