People Who Kick Buts: Anita Roddick
How do you teach obsession, because more often than not it’s obsessions that drives an entrepreneur’s vision? Why would you march to a different drumbeat if you are instinctively part of the crowd?
- Born on October 23, 1942 and passed away on September 10 2007.
- The Body Shop was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries.
- Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace and The Big Issue. In 1990, Roddick founded Children On The Edge, a charitable organisation which helps disadvantaged children in eastern Europe and Asia.
- In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
- In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to long-standing hepatitis C. After she revealed this to the media in February 2007, she promoted the work of the Hepatitis C Trust, and campaigned to increase awareness of the disease.
- Roddick was born Anita Lucia Perilli in a bomb shelter in Littlehampton, Sussex, in an Italian immigrant community, one of four siblings. Her family had fled Naples just before the Second World War. Her mother, Gilda, ran a café and was in the habit of recycling.
- She went to school at St Amy’s Convent, and then attended the Maude Allen Secondary Modern School. Roddick’s parents divorced when she was 9 years old, and her mother married her former husband’s cousin, Henry, who died of tuberculosis after only a few years of marriage.
It was not until Roddick was 19 years old that her mother told her that Henry was the biological father of Anita and her brother, but not Anita’s two sisters. Prior to this Roddick thought that her mother’s first husband, Donny, was her biological father.
- After leaving school, Roddick trained as a teacher at Bath College of Higher Education (now called Bath Spa University), and travelled widely before her mother introduced her to Gordon Roddick, whom she married in 1970. The couple opened a restaurant, followed by a hotel.
- Roddick became the mother of two daughters, Justine and Sam, who, following in her mother’s footsteps, runs her own business, the upmarket and ethical sex shop Coco de Mer.
- Roddick worked for the United Nations, for which she traveled extensively and met people from a number of different cultures. She founded The Shop in Brighton, in 1976. The first Body Shop was basic, offering only 15 products at first. The Body Shop’s full range now has over 300 products.
- On 14 February 2007, Roddick revealed she had been diagnosed with hepatitis C. Roddick said, “I have hepatitis C.”
Roddick explained that she had a large blood transfusion in 1971, after the birth of her younger daughter, and that she was convinced that the transfusion had infected her with hepatitis C. This was about 20 years before blood donors were screened for hepatitis C in the United Kingdom.
- Roddick died of acute brain hemorrhage at about 6:30 p.m. on 10 September 2007, after being admitted to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester the previous evening suffering from a severe headache. She fulfilled her promise to leave her estate to charities, on moral grounds.
- Jon Entine notes that Roddick copied the name, concept and original brochures from the original The Body Shop, which was started in San Francisco and had three stores when Roddick visited the Bay area in the early 1970s. Roddick’s original brochures were word-for-word copies of the San Francisco-based Body Shop.
When Roddick decided to expand her multinational corporation into the United States, she bought the rights to the Body Shop name from the original shop owners in exchange for a gag agreement. The original Body Shop renamed itself Body Time, and is still flourishing.