Get All Access for $5/mo

Burt Shavitz, the Bearded Hippie Co-Founder and Face of Burt's Bees, Dies at 80 Burt's Bees, famous for its lip balm, got its start after Shavitz picked up a hitchhiker in 1984.

By Laura Entis

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Burt's Bees | Facebook
Burt Shavitz, Co-Founder and Face of Burt's Bees.

Burt Shavitz, 80, who spun his affinity for nature and beekeeping into a multimillion-dollar personal care products company, died on Sunday in Bangor, Maine.

Burt's Bees origin story is an unlikely one, and Shavitz, a bearded, free-spirited beekeeper, was an unlikely co-founder. But in the summer of 1984, the universe aligned when Shavitz picked up a hitchhiker, artist Roxanne Quimby. The two hit it off, and soon, according to the company's website, Quimby was making candles out of Shavitz's extra beeswax and selling them at craft fairs. From there, they expanded the line to include lotions, soaps and Burt's Bees most recognizable product, lip balm.

Related: Weight Watchers Founder, Who Turned Her Personal Struggle Into an Empire, Dies at 91

Despite becoming the name and face of Burt's Bees – his bearded likeness, rendered in woodcut, serves as Burt's Bees distinctive logo – Shavitz walked away from the company he started, in large part due to the disintegration of his relationship with Quimby (according to the New York Times, the two were business partners as well as lovers). In 1999, she bought him out, trading him a house in rural Maine, worth approximately $130,000, for his one-third stake in the company. While the reasons behind the move are murky, last summer Shavitz claimed that his departure was prompted by his affair with a Burt's Bee employee.

In 2007, Burt's Bees was bought by the Clorox Company for $913 million. If Shavitz had kept his original stake in the company, he would have walked away with $59 million, according to the Times. While he was compensated in other ways besides the Maine house – Quimby claimed to have given him $4 million after the sale was complete, and he was paid an undisclosed sum by Clorox to serve as Burt's Bees "brand ambassador – the total never came close to $59 million.

Shavitz spent the rest of his life in Maine. While his relationship with Quimby never recovered, the lost windfall didn't appear to upset him much. Last summer, he told The New Yorker: "I've got everything I need: a nice piece of land with hawks and owls and incredible sunsets, and the good will of my neighbors."

Related: A Digital Marketing First? Burt's Bees Wants to Pollinate Your Electronic Calendar

Laura Entis

Staff Writer. Frequently covers tech, business psychology, social media, startups and digital advertising.

Laura Entis is a staff writer at

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Former Disney Princess Lived 'Paycheck to Paycheck' Before Starting a Side Hustle at Home — Now She Makes $250,000 a Year

Victoria Carroll's income was "sporadic" until a friend encouraged her to take her talents to Fiverr in 2018.

Business News

Here's What Sora, OpenAI's Text-to-Video Creator, Can Really Do

Toys "R" Us used Sora, an AI filmmaker, to create its latest ad.

Growing a Business

Beware of These Risky Sales Tactics That Are Doomed to Fail or Backfire

Every business owner can learn from the failed sales tactics of a defeated car salesman. Know what they are to avoid losing your sale.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

How One Company Transformed a Medical Device into a Mass Market Phenomenon

Hyperice's Gilad Jacobs has spearheaded the recovery revolution, expanding the use of his late mother's innovative compression invention for patients, athletes, and everyday citizens.

Business News

This Major U.S. Metropolis Is Requiring All City Employees to Work In-Office 5 Days a Week

Philadelphia is the first city to implement the five-day-a-week in-office mandate. It went into effect on Monday.