Anita Roddick's Legacy: Changing the Face of an Industry

Campaigner, businesswoman and a force of nature: That's how Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, will be remembered by those who knew her and the millions who only knew of her.

Roddick died this week after suffering a brain hemorrhage. She was 64.

Throughout her life, Roddick lent her name and time to numerous causes — she campaigned for debt relief for Third World nations, the rights of indigenous peoples in South America and the preservation of the rain forest, to name but a few.

But she will be remembered most for creating a multimillion-dollar business called The Body Shop. The store helped change the retail industry forever and helped start today's organic movement. She started The Body Shop with a simple principal: Not a single drop of her lotions and soaps is tested on animals.

The rest is history.

When the United Kingdom banned animal testing in 1997, many in the country hailed Roddick's instrumental role in securing the ban. Now, the European Union is set to do the same in 2009, thanks in no small part to her efforts.

In a 2001 interview with ABC News, Roddick said her business philosophy was based on social responsibility and environmental change. "You've got to have a real belief that business ... is more about public good, than private greed."

"I passionately believe that, " she said. "I don't believe that this ever-increasing accumulation of wealth is the answer."

How did the daughter of Italian immigrants, brought up in the English seaside town of Littlehampton, become such a name to reckon with?

The story of The Body Shop begins in Brighton, England, where the 30-something Roddick found herself raising two young daughters in the mid-'70s, while her husband, Scottish poet Gordon Roddick, fulfilled a lifelong dream of traveling on horseback from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York.

Some women might have thrown a fit at such a turn of events. Roddick, instead, took out an $8,000 bank loan and set up a shop.

Not just any shop, though. Her shop sold natural beauty products only, packed in refillable containers — "because we didn't have enough bottles," she later said — with all the labels written by hand. And of course, nothing was tested on animals.

The novelty factor worked and the shop took off. So much so that Roddick quickly borrowed an additional $6,000 from a friend to open a second store.

No one was as surprised by The Body Shop's success as Roddick herself. On her Web site, she described it as "a series of brilliant accidents."

Writer and broadcaster, Simon Fanshawe was a close personal friend of Roddick's.

Speaking to ABC News, he said, "the thing about Anita was that she saw the potential even in chance happenings. She was always able to exploit the moment, use whatever she had, and make things happen."

And she did make things happen, even if her initial plans were never so grand. To her, selling natural products and minimizing waste was simply the right thing to do.

But, unlike the environmental campaigners she so often worked with, Roddick had a strong nose for business, even as she decried the values and methods used by her competitors in the race to turn a profit.

In an interview with ABC News, Tony Juniper, director of the environmental charity Friends of the Earth, described Roddick as an "extraordinary" woman. "She showed you that you could have a business that embodied green values, be committed to a better world, while turning a profit," he said.

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