As a young girl, starting a business was the last thing on Anita Roddick's mind. "I wanted to be an actress," she says.
Even when she began to pursue what would become The Body Shop, her environmentalism-minded skin- and hair-care company with more than 1,800 stores in 49 countries, Roddick's goal was not to be an icon. "My business was a response to the extravagance and waste of the cosmetics industry," she says.
Roddick opened her first shop in 1976 with 25 hand-mixed products, eventually franchising The Body Shop and then going public in 1984. The Body Shop now offers more than 1,000 items and reached sales of more than $1 billion in 2000/2001.
|Blast From the Past|
|We wrote about Anita Roddick back in 1996. See what we had to say .|
Though she no longer sits on The Body Shop's executive committee, Roddick still serves as co-chair, finds new products and keeps the company active in human rights, environmentalist and animal-protection issues.
In 1997, Roddick helped launch a master's degree program in conjunction with Bath University in England, with the aim of making business education more socially responsible. More recently, she established The Body Shop's Human Rights Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that focus on social, economic and cultural rights.
The biggest challenge has been people's cynicism. "People feel there has to be an ulterior motive to The Body Shop's activism, as though our principles are a marketing ploy," Roddick laments.
Have the challenges affected Roddick's feelings about entrepreneurship? Not even slightly. "I don't think being an entrepreneur is something you question," says Roddick. "It's just something you are."
At press time, The Body Shop was considering buyout offers, but hadn't reached any decisions.
How do you define "entrepreneur"?
Anita Roddick: Entrepreneurs are obsessive visionaries, pathological optimists, passionate storytellers and outsiders by nature.
Who is your idea of an entrepreneurial icon?
How do you keep your entrepreneurial spirit alive?
What was your dream when you started out?
What's your legacy?
- More than just a history of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick's Business as Unusual: The Triumph of Anita Roddick explains Roddick's motivation for creating a business that doesn't rely on "business as usual" practices.
- In the same vein, Roddick's Take it Personally: How to Make Conscious Choices to Change the World calls on business leaders and consumers alike to eliminate practices that harm workers, children, animals and the environment.
- Learn about the early years of Anita Roddick in Anita! The Woman Behind The Body Shop by Jules Older and Lisa Kopper