Anita Roddick died on the 10th of September 2007 at the age of 64, he was a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing natural beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism.
In 1997, Anita developed the Body Shop’s most successful campaign ever, creating Ruby, the size 16 doll, who was thought to bear a passing resemblance to Barbie.
The campaign evolved from a new strategic positioning developed by ethical communications consultancy Host Universal, who created the image of the naked red-haired doll, hands behind her head and wind in her hair that became the embodiment of the campaign.
On the 17th of March 2006, L’Oréal purchased Body Shop for £652 million.
This caused controversy, because L’Oréal is involved in animal testing and because the company is part-owned by Nestlé, which has been criticised for its treatment of third world producers.
Anita Roddick addressed it directly in an interview with The Guardian, which reported that “she sees herself as a kind of ‘Trojan horse’ who by selling her business to a huge firm will be able to influence the decisions it makes.
Suppliers who had formerly worked with the Body Shop will in future have contracts with L’Oréal, and whilst working with the company 25 days a year Roddick was able to have an input into decisions.”
It wasn’t only economic necessity that inspired the birth of The Body Shop. Her early travels gave her a wealth of experience.
She had spent time in farming and fishing communities with pre-industrial peoples, and was exposed to body rituals of women from all over the world.
Also the frugality that her mother exercised during the war years made her question retail conventions.
Why waste a container when you can refill it? And why buy more of something than you can use? She behaved as her mother had in World War II.
The Body Shop reused everything, refilled everything and recycled all they could.
The foundation of The Body Shop’s environmental activism was born out of these ideas.
The Body Shop arrived just as Europe was going ‘green’.
The Body Shop has always been recognisable by its green colour, but it was the only colour that they could find to cover the damp, mouldy walls of the first shop.
She opened a second shop within six months, by which time Gordon was back in England.
He came up with the idea for ‘self-financing’ more new stores, which sparked the growth of the franchise network through which The Body Shop spread across the world.
The company went public in 1984. A whole host of awards came her way, and as Anita famously claimed; some she understood, some she didn’t and a couple she thought she deserved.
In 2007 Anita announced that she had Hepatitis C, which she contracted from a contaminated blood transfusion in 1971, however she was not diagnosed with the condition until 2004.
She was completely committed to working with the Hepatitis C Trust, and became their patron, to raise awareness of the disease and to lobby the government for more action.
In true Anita style, personal experience promoted her to launch a major campaign to alert people to an important issue and ensure change in attitudes and policy.