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.
Roddicks timing couldnt 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.
This biography was last updated on 07/27/2011.
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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
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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