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

This ability to remain green and also rake in massive returns gave her "a unique credibility," according to Juniper.

Recycling was encouraged and fair-trade was top of the agenda at The Body Shop. It was all part of what Roddick described on her site as a "fight for fairness in the global economy."

  Not only did she insist on sourcing raw materials for her cosmetic products from underdeveloped nations like Ghana and Guatemala, she also made it a point to get the materials from smaller producers, ensuring that they got a fair price for their goods.  

She could excoriate the competition for not being sufficiently ethical, because she had managed the rare trick of being both ethical and profitable.

In that sense, Roddick was probably her own best advertisement for the vision she hoped to propagate throughout the corporate establishment. Her home page firmly stated that "businesses have the power to do good" and her life lived up to that promise.

Rachel Bentley, director of Children on the Edge, a charity started by Roddick in response to the Romanian orphanage crisis of the 1990s, told ABC News that her one-time boss was nothing if not "absolute dynamite."

Her commitment to "social responsibility was ahead of her time," Bentley said. "She didn't set out to make money. She was an activist first."

An activist with remarkable business acumen. By 2000, The Body Shop had made inroads into more than 50 countries, numbering about 2,000 stores in total.

Last year, Roddick sold the company to the French firm L'Oréal for a reported $1.14 billion.

The lucky friend that loaned her $6,000 to open her second store earned a staggering profit of nearly $274 million when the deal went through, three decades later.

But the sale was controversial, not least because L'Oréal is yet to announce a ban on animal testing of its products. Even as her own followers criticized the sale, Roddick said that she hoped her values would permeate L'Oréal and persuade the company's directors to follow her unusual path to success.

"With L'Oréal," Juniper said, "she was trying to change a mainstream company from within." L'Oréal, whose headquarters are based in France, will have to join the rest of the EU and ban animal testing by 2009.

In the meantime, however, other "mainstream" companies in the United Kingdom and the United States are well on their way to adopting The Body Shop's values, because of growing consumer demand for ethically and environmentally friendly products.

From Wal-Mart's plans to sell energy-saving light bulbs to the current vogue for organic and fair-trade food sold in supermarkets, being green and ethically sound has never been so popular.

"But," Juniper pointed out, "unlike other organizations that go green because of pressure from consumers, environmental values were Anita's priority."

It was the beginning of a process now familiar to many shoppers — from grocery stores like Whole Foods to credit cards like the American Express Red card, the fair-trade movement has slowly permeated popular consciousness. And many would point to Roddick as the first lady of that movement.

Fanshawe, who interviewed her on many occasions, told ABC News that, "more than once, in the middle of the interview, I would find myself thinking, how many people have I interviewed who have literally changed the face of retail?" Roddick was one of very few.

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