Founder of the Body Shop (1942-Current)


Anita Roddick was born on October 23, 1942 in Littlehampton in England, a small seaside Italian-style resort community. Her parents both owned the Clifton Café and they divorced when she was only eight years old. However, during her early years, Anita's second nature became work ethics, in which she continued her entire life. Her stepfather Henry died when she was ten years old and Anita' s mother had to take over the cafe. Anita's mother was the cook at the cafe and all her children would have to work at the age they were ready. Their duties after school and on the weekends, included taking orders, clearing tables, washing up, and buttering slices of bread.

Anita attended a Roman Catholic school during her elementary to high school years. In her second year of secondary school, Anita was a doubtful student. Her teachers recognized that she was different from all the other kids. They helped her feel special, creative, original in whatever she wanted to do. Her mother would always tell her, "Be special, be anything but mediocre." From secondary school, she learned early business by trading trade comics and bubble gum that were given by her Uncle Henry.

College Years and Marriage

She graduated from high school and attended college to study history, education, art, music, and drama. Anita would later attend a teacher training college and travel mainly to Israel and France, returning to her hometown afterwards. She was given a teaching position at the local secondary school. Anita was a great teacher, preparing each lesson for hours with graphics, jokes, and drama so it would be interesting as possible. However, her love for travel made her hitchhike between Greece and Switzerland. She got a job with the Department Of Women's Rights at the International Labor Organization, doing research with women in third world countries. She traveled to places like Tahiti, Australia, and South Africa. She also learned poverty, sickness, social injustice,and gender gaps, which would later play a huge role later in every aspect of her life ( After her foreign travels, Anita went back to England. She would meet and fall in love with young, tall, thin, and quiet man, Gordon Roddick. Her mother was the one to introduce them, telling Gordon about Anita's teacher career and travels around the world. Together, they would have two beautiful daughters.

Roots of Business

The husband and wife duo first tried running a bed and breakfast for a while and then they tried a restaurant, but both failed. After working three years running a bed and bath part-time and a restaurant full-time, the stressful work schedule came to him. Gordon decided to leave his family behind for two years and ride from Buenos Aires to New York City on horseback in 1976. Anita approved of the trip because she believed in mutual marriage and his independence. Anita was desperate and knew she would have to support herself and her daughters somehow. Anita took out a £6,000 loan so she opened a cosmetic shop in Brighton in 1976. She would call it "The Body Shop". Gordon would return two years later as he promised and help her out with the business.

Anita would use what she had learned from her travels in her business. She remembered women using things made from plants and fruits that did a better job cleaning skin than the products she had at home. She wanted her shop only to be filled with natural products. She had come up with the name from repair shops she had seen in the United States. The difficulty came when she did not have enough business background. Roddick did not see the value in fancy packaging, so she made a small group of cosmetics made from only natural ingredients in five different sizes in the cheapest possible plastic containers. Anita had first developed the products in her garage, and actually packaged them in urine sample bottles. She could not afford enough of the cheap bottles so she started recycling and reusing the materials for economic reasons. Labels were hand-printed and bottles were hand-filled so everyone gets the same amount. Cards were written explaining each bottle and what the ingredients would do. This system became a "cornerstone of her trading philosophy".

"We have a basic understanding that to run this business you don't have to know anything. Skill is not the answer, neither is money. What you need is optimism, humanism, enthusiasm, intuition, curiosity, love, humor, magic and fun and that secret ingredient - euphoria."

Modern-day Status

Her philosophy had caught on when environmental concerns came to play. The Body Shop went public in the April of 1984. The Roddicks realized several important business principles. Anita and Gordon were busy running the business, opening shops all around the UK and keeping them supplied, while the expansion had a pace to it. She now owns over 1800 shops in 49 countries, selling over 700 million pounds in 2004. Customers could now choose from a range of over 600 products and more than 400 accessories. In 1993, Fortune Magazine had rated Anita as the 5th richest woman in Britain. Anita is still a teacher and uses her delivery trucks to say creative things like "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Her husband is her devoted business partner and the couple’s fortune is valued at over £68 million.

Sources included:,,,,, and http://money. MillionairesSecrets/AnitaRoddick/default.asp

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