Dame Anita Roddick and The Body Shop: Getting Started
The daughter of Italian immigrants born and raised in the UK, Anita Perella began developing her legendary work ethic and keen business sense at an early age as she and her siblings worked tirelessly in her parent’s café as children. It was very common in those days for immigrant children to labor as hard as (if not harder) than their adult counterparts and Anita was no exception. She was a hard worker but also garnered a reputation for being a “rebel” by challenging the ideas and concepts of those around her. It is undoubtedly these traits (among others)—her tireless work ethic, savvy business sense, and willingness to think outside the box—which led to the eventual creation and overwhelming success of Anita’s legacy: The Body Shop. By the mid-70’s Anita had already completed her college education and began to travel the world, drifting from one position to another—teaching in Israel, working for the United Nations in Geneva..etc—before deciding to become a student of the world by exploring other nations and cultures. In her own words: “(…) that's when I first understood the power of community and a world beyond our Western notion, and the role women could play in it. It was education through experience, and it was where I got the ideas for The Body Shop.” When she returned from her expedition Anita met and fell in love with her future husband and the father of her two daughters; Gordon Roddick. Together the couple owned and ran a small hotel and a very successful Italian restaurant for over three years before deciding to give up the latter due to the overwhelming pressure and demands required of them. The work had simply become too straining. Shortly after, with her blessing, Anita’s husband decided to pursue a lifelong dream of trekking across the world on horseback, leaving Anita to fend for herself and their two small daughters. It was finally time to put those ideas she’d accumulated out in the world to work. Throughout her travels she had learned that women from all cultures and walks of life were concerned with the care of their bodies and skin and most would even be willing invest money into such upkeep, so she figured that opening a skincare shop would be relatively easy. However, she came to her first challenge when she realized that she had only a concept and not nearly enough money to bring it to life. Banks rejected her when she applied for loans—which she credited to her being a woman—so she had her husband apply instead. It worked and with the money she purchased a small shop in Brighton. What does a “beauty” shop need to be successful? Products! Hence her second challenge. Having put most of the money into the actual shop and decorations, going out and buying skincare products was not an option. Most beauty products were considered a luxury then and thus fairly expensive, so in a bout of genius and creativity she took to her garage concocting her own products out of any suitable natural ingredients she could find. Another thing she realized about most beauty products was that they were sold in large quantities, which gave her the idea to use small/multiple serving sizes for her products. It would prove to be beneficial as well considering that she only had 15 products to begin with—by dividing them into multiple serving sizes it appeared to customers as if she had a greater inventory than she actually had. Her small budget meant that she could not afford expensive or fancy labels and bottles for her products. Instead she had friends help with handwriting labels and filling the cheapest bottles she could find—the plastic sample bottles primarily used by hospitals. Despite her thriftiness she faced yet another dilemma concerning the plastic bottles. There simply were not enough to make a necessary profit. With no money to buy more she decided to give her customers the option to refill empty containers thus beginning the company’s tradition of reusing,...
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