Anita Roddick biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Anita Roddick.

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Anita Roddick
Photo by Brian Moody

Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick Biography

Anita Roddick was born Anita Lucia Perilli in a bomb shelter in Littlehampton (UK) in 1942 to Italian Jewish parents. She was one of four children.  After leaving school she trained as a teacher at Bath College of Higher Education, and traveled widely with the United Nations before her mother introduced her to Gordon Roddick. The couple opened a restaurant, followed by a hotel. They married in 1970 when Anita was expecting their second child. 

Roddick founded The Body Shop in Brighton in the south of England, in 1976 after her husband announced that he wanted to take a couple of years off to trek across South America, and she needed to create a livelihood for herself and her daughters while he was away.  The first store sold just 15 lines.  

Thanks to her own earlier travels, she had a wealth of experience and exposure to the body rituals of women from all over the world from which to draw. The frugality of her mother also helped Roddick to take a fresh look at retail with such concepts as refillable containers.

Roddick’s timing couldn’t have been better as the public were starting to look to ‘greener’ companies and products. Thus she became the first to introduce socially and environmentally responsible business onto the High Street and began talking about fair trade long before it became a buzz word.  Today, The Body Shop has almost 2,000 stores serving over 77 million customers in 50 different markets and 25 different languages.

She was the author of Business as Unusual and Take It Personally. In 2003, Roddick's achievements were recognized when she appointed a dame by the Queen, and officially styled as Dame Anita Roddick.

Three years later, the Body Shop was purchased by L'Oreal for £652.3 million. This caused controversy, partly because L'Oreal is said to be involved in animal testing, and partly because it is part-owned by multinational conglomerate Nestlé - which has been criticized for its treatment of third world producers.

In February 2007, Roddick revealed that she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. She said she contracted the virus through a blood transfusion while giving birth to her youngest daughter, Sam, in 1971. She was also suffering cirrhosis of the liver, one of the long-term effects of the disease.

In September 2007, she was taken to St Richard's Hospital in Chichester after complaining of a headache. She suffered a major brain hemorrhage, and died the following day (Sept 10). Her husband, Gordon, and daughters Sam and Justine were all with her.



In Brief

  • Born: Oct, 23 1942
  • Married: T. Gordon Roddick, 1970
  • Children: Justine 1969, Samantha 1971
  • Grandchildren: Maiya Hopi 1994, Atticus-Finch 1998, O'sha Sophia Bluebell 1998
  • Education: Maude Allen Secondary Modern School for Girls, Littlehampton Newton Park, College of Higher Education, Bath


Career 1962-76
  • Worked in Library of International Herald Tribune, Paris
  • Teacher of English and History, England
  • Worked in Women's Rights Dept. of International Labor Organization (ILO), based at UN in Geneva
  • Owner and manager of restaurant and hotel in Littlehampton
  • Opened The Body Shop (Int. PLC) in Brighton, Sussex, England in 1976.


Trustee/Board Member
  • 1984 - present - The Body Shop International Plc
  • 1989 - present - The Body Shop Foundation
  • 1994 - 2001 - Mother Jones Magazine - Foundation for National Progress, USA
  • 1995 - present - New Academy of Business
  • 1996 - 1997 - Human Rights Watch, USA
  • 1999 - present - The Ruckus Society, USA
  • 2003 - present - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, USA


Patron
  • 1991 - present - Schumacher College for Human Scale Education
  • 1994 - present - Association for Creation Spirituality
  • 1996 - present - Body and Soul (women & families with HIV and AIDS)
  • 1998 - present - EMMA (Ethnic Minority Media Awards)
  • 2002 - present - Findhorn Foundation College
  • 2002 - present - My Acre Of Africa, South Africa


Member
  • 1992 - Business for Social Responsibility
  • 1992 - DEMOS Advisory Council Member
  • 1993 - Social Venture Network Europe
  • 1993 - Business Women's Leadership Association, USA
  • 1995 - Women Incorporated - Board of Advisors, USA
  • 1995 - Forum for the Future - Council Member
  • 1996 - The Non-Violence Project Foundation
  • 2001 - UK Ambassador for British Business


Campaigns involved in with The Body Shop
  • 1985 - Stop the dumping of toxic waste in North Sea, Greenpeace
  • 1986 - Campaign against whaling of sperm whales, Greenpeace
  • 1987 - Acid Rain pollution, Friends of the Earth
  • 1987 - Published first 'Green' Diary, Friends of the Earth
  • 1980s - Against Animal Testing for cosmetics, collected 4 million signatures through shops
  • 1990 - The Body Shop Foundation set-up. Over first 6 years of operation donated more than 3.5 million pounds to 180 charitable groups
  • 1990 - Set-up project to refurbish 3 Romanian orphanages. Work extended into Albania and Bosnia
  • 1991 - Funded Unrepresented Nations and Peoples organization
  • 1993-98 - Ogoni Campaign against Shell and Nigeria
  • 1994 - Marked 50th anniversary of UN Declaration of Human Rights, launched 'Make Your Mark' campaign with Dalai Lama, in partnership with Amnesty International. 3 million thumbprints collected in 34 countries. 17 prisoners of conscience released
  • 1997 - Self-Esteem Campaign with its controversial mascot, Ruby, exposes myth of the perfect body
  • 2000 - The Body Shop Human Rights Award launched, biennial award of $300,000 to selected grassroots groups fighting for human rights globally
  • 2001 - present - Challenging Exxon-Mobil, World's No 1 Global Warming Villain and campaigning for renewable energy for world's 2 billion poorest people, Greenpeace
  • 2001 - present - Challenging Globalization/Free Trade agenda of WTO, Trade Justice Coalition
  • 2001 - present - Sweatshop Labor and workers' rights in Free Trade Zones, National Labour Committee
  • 2001 - present - Free the Angola Three
  • 2001 - 2002 - Positive Energy Campaign with Greenpeace


Campaign groups personally supported
  • Project Censored
  • International Forum on Globalization
  • Citizen's Trade Campaign (Pre Seattle)
  • Mother Jones
  • Supporting 3 kids' schooling, 2 in Nepal and 1 in UAE
  • New Academy of Business (MSc student place funding)
  • University of Creation Spirituality
  • World Development Movement
  • People & Planet
  • Trade Justice Coalition
  • National Labor Committee
  • Body & Soul (HIV/AIDS)
  • Federation of Southern Co-Operatives (Poor Black Farmers support group)
  • Free the Angola Three
  • Greenpeace, Challenging Exxon-Mobil, World's No 1 Global Warming Villain and campaigning for renewable energy for world's 2 billion poorest people, Greenpeace
  • Trade Justice Coalition, Challenging Globalisation/Free Trade agenda of WTO


Selected Awards Received
  • 1984 - Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year
  • 1988 - OBE - Order of the British Empire (Other Buggers' Efforts, according to Sam, my daughter)
  • 1991 - Center for World Development Education's World Vision Award, USA
  • 1993 - Banksia Foundation's Australia Environmental Award
  • 1993 - Mexican Environmental Achiever Award
  • 1993 - National Audubon Society Medal, USA
  • 1994 - Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics, USA
  • 1994 - University of Michigan's Annual Business Leadership Award, USA
  • 1995 - Women's Business Development Center's First Annual Woman Power Award, USA
  • 1996 - Women's Center's Leadership Award, USA
  • 1996 - The Gleitsman Foundation's Award of Achievement, USA
  • 1997 - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Honouree, Eyes on the Environment
  • 1999 - British Environment & Media Award
  • 1999 - Chief Wiper-Away of Ogoni Tears, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Nigeria
  • 2001 - International Peace Prayer Day Organisation's Woman of Peace
  • 2003 - DBE (Dame Commander of the British Empire)

Link to Anita's website

This biography was last updated on 07/27/2011.

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Interview

An Interview with Anita Roddick, founder of The Body SHop

I started The Body Shop in 1976 simply to create a livelihood for myself and my two daughters, while my husband, Gordon, was trekking across the Americas. I had no training or experience and my only business acumen was Gordon's advice to take sales of £300 a week. Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that's exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science, it's about trading: buying and selling. It's about creating a product or service so good that people will pay for it. Now 28 years on The Body Shop is a multi local business with 1,980 stores serving over 77 million customers in 50 different markets in 25 different languages and across 12 time zones. And I haven't a clue how we got here!

I was born in Littlehampton in 1942. As the child of an Italian immigrant couple in an English seaside town, I was a natural outsider, and I was drawn to other outsiders and rebels. James Dean was my schoolgirl idol. I also had a strong sense of moral outrage, which was awakened when I found a book about the Holocaust at the age of ten. I trained as a teacher ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Anita Roddick at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

Business As Unusual
Business As Unusual

by Anita Roddick

Body Shop founder, Roddick, shares her vision of how businesses can successfully evolve in the new millennium without losing sight of the big picture, and offers a fresh plan for dealing with the demands of ethical business.
Read More

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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Anita Roddick but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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