Beauty

ANITA RODDICK

A true trailblazer in the beauty biz, The Body Shop founder’s fair trade legacy lives on


A BEAUTIFUL MIND: ANITA RODDICK
A true trailblazer in the beauty biz, The Body Shop founder’s fair trade legacy lives on


Anita Roddick


 
Anita Roddick

The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick

It’s been nearly two years since Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, passed away at age 64. When Flare met with Roddick at her book tour for Business as Unusual in 2005, it was obvious she wasn’t there to dish about blush tips. There to promote her book on how-to make a profit while positively contributing to the global community, Roddick was focused on just that. In 1976 she opened her first outpost in the U.K., simply earning a living selling natural beauty products inspired by her world travels. Soon, her left-leaning politics would enter into the “me generation” marketplace and “no animal testing” became the sleeper slogan of the 1980s. By the time Roddick passed away 33 years later, the company had been sold to L’Oréal for $1.14B U.S. – not bad for a grass roots company.

Today, those who worked closely with Roddick are picking up where she left off, memories of her fearless spirit guiding the way. “I can’t hear the voice of the farmer in what you’re saying,” Roddick used to tell Dr. Graham Clewer, Head of Ethical Trade at The Body Shop since 2003. It’s a teaching he holds high as he works face-to-face with fair trade communities around the world. Long before Angelina Jolie was using her fame for positive change, Roddick was using the success of her business as a tool for empowerment.

The Body Shop


 
The Body Shop

Her method? First, find a marginalized community that needs to enter the global market and determine their willingness and ability to work with The Body Shop. Next, ensure the benefits will be a lever for social change in that community. Lastly, the production process must be environmentally friendly. In return, these communities would enjoy fair trade and be paid based on what they themselves deemed to be fair. To be clear, the idea was never about charity, per se. The product and price must be embraced by The Body Shop customer to be commercially viable. Trade-not-aid became Roddick’s mandate right around the time Bono was singing about Christmas time in Africa.

The Body Shop


 
The Body Shop

Today, over 25,000 people in 31 communities, ranging from Russia to Ghana, are benefiting from the program. Schools, hospitals and running water now exist where previously there were none. The Body Shop’s latest initiative is linked to a small group of islands in the South Pacific called Samoa (see above), where they’re producing organic virgin coconut oil, the key ingredient in the newly re-formulated Coconut Bath & Body range. For The Body Shop, working with small, knowledgeable farm operations means gaining a better quality final product, without the use of chemicals. For 200 Samoans, it will mean paying for their kids to go to school. For the rest of us, it can mean peace of mind about where our dollars for dream creams are going. And for Anita Roddick, her legacy will carry on inside every last recyclable bottle.

Photography by Jane Ussher. Headshot courtesy of The Body Shop.

Read all about our beauty adventure in Samoa in the August issue of Flare Magazine.

MAIN