In MemoriamPosted: September 12, 2007
Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop and champion of social causes, died suddenly this past Monday of a brain hemmorage. She was 64 years old.
Roddick opened the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976 as a small, independent beauty shop devoted to making and selling natural skincare products. No one then could have imagined that her small shop would one day turn into almost 2000 worldwide. Under Ms. Roddick's leadership, The Body Shop earned a reputation for promoting ethical commerce and social practices. They pioneered the practice of fair trade, in which ingredients were sourced from indiginous communities (often poor) worldwide, thus earning the communities a source of income without taking advantage of the people or their resources. They were among the first to campaign against animal testing and the use of animal products in their cosmetics. The Body Shop also promoted many social causes, like Greenpeace, and Children on the Edge (which helped Romanian orphans), as well as causes to increase awareness about domestic violence, AIDS, and Hepatitis C, which Roddick had revealed this past February she had been carrying since 1971 when she had a blood transfusion during the birth of her daughter, although she didn't learn she had the disease until 2004. Most notably, The Body Shop was among the earliest opponents of animal testing in the cosmetics industry, thereby raising awareness among consumers about the practice.
In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II made Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which entitled her to be called Dame Anita. When she sold The Body Shop to French cosmetics giant L'Oreal last year, critics accused her of selling out. In her view, however, she did it to teach the major cosmetics manufacturer about fair trade and more ethical practices. And although L'Oreal owned The Body Shop, the Body Shop continued to be run independently of L'Oreal.
Ms. Roddick's legacy is not merely the many Body Shops worldwide that continue to bring the over 300 fair-trade-sourced products to consumers. It is also her committment to social causes, a committment that The Body Shop will hopefully carry on in her name.