Dame Anita Roddick was an entrepreneur, environmental campaigner and human rights activist whose claim to fame was the creation of ‘The Body Shop’, a well-known cosmetics company. She became a successful business woman despite her humble beginnings.
Roddick was born on 23rd October 1942 in Littlehampton, England. Her parents were Italian immigrants who ran a café. As a child she worked with her parents and had almost no time for leisure. She opened the first outlet of The Body Shop with the goal of earning money to support her daughters and herself when her husband was in South America. The idea was to provide really good skin care in containers that could be refilled. She opened another shop six months later. When her husband came back he too joined the business. The business had expanded to 700 outlets by 1991. Roddick got the 1991 World Vision Award for Development Initiative. The most successful marketing campaign by Anita was the 16 size red haired doll named Ruby that was launched in 1997.
The Body Shop started getting recognized and cool, funky and sophisticated. By 2004 there were 1980 Body Shop stores that served more than 77 million customers all over the world. The Body Shop is the second most trusted cosmetics brand in the UK and ranks 28th among the world’s top most brands. In 2006, it was bought by L’Oreal for £652 million stirring some controversy because L’Oreal does animal testing whereas Anita was known for being environmental friendly and against animal testing. Roddick claimed that she will be involved with the decisions of the company in the future.
Roddick had deep empathy for the needy. She did a lot of philanthropic work. She established COTE which was Children on the Edge; an organization founded for de-institutionalize children and protect those affected by natural disasters, HIV/AIDS and disabilities. She was also a member of Demos (UK Think Tank). Anita Roddick also authored a book called ‘Take it Personally’ that promoted equality and discouraged the mistreatment of children and workers in the underdeveloped countries. It was reported in the ‘National Post’ that Roddick had decided to give away most of her wealth estimated to be worth £51 million. She was knighted by the Queen in 1988. Apart from the OBE, Roddick received several awards and recognitions throughout her life. Some of these include the honorary Doctorate from the University of Sussex (1988), the Mexican Environmental Achiever Award (1993), the Women’s Business Development Center’s First Annual Woman Power Award (1995), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Honouree Eyes on the Environment (1997), the British Environment & Media Award (1999), Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the Sage Colleges (2004) and the Spirit of the Rainforest Award from the Rainforest Action Network (2006).
Roddick was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2004 which she had gotten due to a blood transfusion she had while giving birth to her younger daughter. Later on she also developed liver cirrhosis. Roddick died due to brain hemorrhageon 10th September 2007. She left her entire estate to charity.