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Going Green: One Entrepreneur’s Affect on the Cosmetic Industry--Anita Roddick
By: Jean E. Allured
Posted: August 31, 2006, from the September 2006 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
“… the kind of shop I’m thinking of opening is one that sells natural cosmetics in different sizes and in cheap, refillable containers,” Anita Roddick told her husband Gordon in the mid-1970s. When The Body Shop’s first branch opened in March 1976 with 25 products, that is what she did.
Everything Roddick did in her start-up year was dictated by her lack of funding. The Body Shop’s logo was designed for £25, approximately US $46 dollars; friends helped fill bottles and hand-write labels; the inside of the shop was painted dark green to cover damp patches on the walls—only later did the color green represent the environmental movement; and when she could not afford to buy enough containers, she offered to refill empty containers or fill the customers’ own bottles. “In this way, we started recycling and reusing materials long before it became ecologically fashionable,” wrote Roddick in her book Business As Unusual (Burlington Press Ltd, England, UK, 2000).
“From the beginning we wanted to be … honest about the products we sold and the benefits they promised,” added Roddick. Results from a survey in England told Roddick that she was right: Women believed that honesty was the best policy for cosmetic companies, not only in what ingredients were in the product, but also the results the product claimed to produce.
Roddick made certain guarantees to her customers: the integrity of her franchises and suppliers; that ingredients in the products had not been tested on animals; that any material a customer bought was renewable; and that nothing the customer bought “was used to prop up a regime that offended human rights.”
Over the years, The Body Shop product line grew to more than 600 products and 400 accessories. An important element of product development became what Roddick calls “community trade” relationships.