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Dame Anita Roddick - An Entrepreneur ahead of her time

Dame Anita Roddick, DBE (23 October 1942 – 10 September 2007) was a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company that deals with the production and retail of beauty products. She was a pioneer ethical consumerism.

Her company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries.

Roddick was an activist who campaigned for environmental and social issues including the involvement with Greenpeace and The Big Issue. In 1990, she founded ‘Children On The Edge’, a charitable organization which helps disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe and Asia.

In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Anita Roddick was born in a bomb shelter in Littlehampton, Sussex, the daughter of Italian immigrants who had recently arrived in England from Naples.

After school, Anita trained as a teacher before working for the United Nations. This experience enabled her to travel extensively and meet many many people.

In 1979, she opened her first shop in Brighton known as ‘The Shop’, It was located between two funeral parlours.

Anita Roddick stated that many business decisions came about through circumstances and good luck rather than any prepared plan. The Body Shop‘s simple ethical message and promotion of ethical and environmental friendly consumerism helped it grow a very strong brand image.

Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote

When Anita Roddick described the ethos behind the Body Shop, she said:

“We made a list of all the things we didn’t want to be. We did not want to be these captains of industry. That didn’t make our blood sing. I didn’t want to be a cosmetic diva wearing high heels and make-up, prancing around at the celebrity functions. We were rooted in family and community.”

By 1991, the Body Shop had over 700 shops worldwide. It is considered to be the second most respected brand name in the UK. Roddick said the aim of the business was not just about making money, but using valuable ethical and moral principles in deciding how the business is run. She said:

“All through history, there have always been movements where business was not just about the accumulation of proceeds but also for the public good. I am still looking for the modern equivalent of those Quakers who ran successful businesses, made money because they offered honest products and treated their people decently. This business creed, sadly, seems long forgotten.”

In 1990, after visiting a Romanian orphanage, Roddick established a charity called Children On The Edge. She actively campaigned for this and other charities with similar causes.

In 2006, she sold the Body Shop to L’Oreal for £652 million.

In 2007, at 64 years of age, Anita disclosed she was ill with Hepatitis C, and shortly afterwards, she died from a brain haemorrhage. She stated she had contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion while giving birth to her youngest daughter, Sam, in 1971. After her death, Roddick left all her estate to charities as she promised.


55 Quotes from Anita Roddick

Here are 55 quotes from Anita Roddick’s entrepreneurial journey.

1. “You can’t change the world from the rear view mirror.” – Anita Roddick

2. “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.” – Anita Roddick

3. “Not all revolutionaries set out to change the world per se; some set out to change their own worlds. And in so doing, they often change the way one person, or a few people, or whole communities, or entire nations or the world thinks and operates in some significant way.” – Anita Roddick

4. “It is a critical job of any entrepreneur to maximize creativity, and to build the kind of atmosphere around you that encourages people to have ideas. That means open structures, so that accepted thinking can be challenged.” – Anita Roddick

5. “Never be seduced into believing it isn’t the role of business to tackle the big issues, because it absolutely is.” – Anita Roddick

6. “I think it is completely immoral for a shop to trade in the middle of a community, to take money and make profits from that community and then ignore the existence of that community, its needs and problems.” – Anita Roddick

7. “A great advantage I had when I started The Body Shop was that I had never been to business school.” – Anita Roddick

8. “Entrepreneurs are outsiders by nature – outsiders with a work ethic.” – Anita Roddick

9. “Don’t underestimate the power of the vigilante consumer.” – Anita Roddick

10. “Entrepreneurs are all a little crazy. There is a fine line between an entrepreneur and a crazy person. Crazy people see and feel things that others don’t. An entrepreneur’s dream is often a kind of madness, and it is almost as isolating. What differentiates the entrepreneur from the crazy person is that the former gets other people to believe in his vision.” – Anita


Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote

11. “I don’t think I’m a risk-taker. I don’t think any entrepreneur is. I think that’s one of those myths of commerce. The new entrepreneur is more values-led: you do what looks risky to other people because that’s what your convictions tell you to do. Other companies would say I’m taking risks, but that’s my path – it doesn’t feel like risk to me.” – Anita Roddick

12. “If companies are in business solely to make money, no consumer can fully trust what they do or say.” – Anita Roddick

13. “You’ve got so many groups that have no voice in this world – the indigenous, the poor. So how can I use the resources that I have and bring them up, highlight them. And it’s not that difficult. It’s just choosing and concentrating and focusing.” – Anita Roddick

14. “Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.” – Anita Roddick

15. Anita Roddick Quote: “Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”Anita Roddick

16. “We entrepreneurs are loners, vagabonds, troublemakers. Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding ourselves with those open-minded and clever souls who can take our insanity and put it to good use.” – Anita Roddick

17. “It is true that there is a fine line between entrepreneurship and insanity. Crazy people see and feel things that others don’t. But you have to believe that everything is possible. If you believe it, those around you will believe it too.” – Anita Roddick

18. “The business of business should not be about money. It should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.” – Anita Roddick

19. “My passionate belief is that business can be fun, it can be conducted with love and a powerful force for good.” – Anita Roddick

20. “I have always found that my view of success has been iconoclastic: success to me is not about money or status or fame, its about finding a livelihood that brings me joy and self-sufficiency and a sense of contributing to the world.” – Anita Roddick

21. “We communicate with passion and passion persuades.” – Anita Roddick

22. “Be special. Be anything but mediocre.” – Anita Roddick

23. “The function of wealth is not to accumulate it but to give it away as productively and responsibly as you can.” – Anita Roddick

24. “First, you have to have fun. Second, you have to put love where your labour is. Third, you have to go in the opposite direction to everyone else.” – Anita Roddick

25. Speed, agility and responsiveness are the keys to future success.” – Anita Roddick

26. “Get informed. Get outraged. Get inspired. Get active.” – Anita Roddick

27. “Entrepreneurs are visionaries – they see things other people don’t see.” – Anita Roddick

28. “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” – Anita Roddick

29. “The end result of kindness is that it draws people to you.” – Anita Roddick

30. “There is no scientific answer for success. You can’t define it. You’ve simply got to live it and do it.” – Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote

31. “I believe in businesses where you engage in creative thinking, and where you form some of your deepest relationships. If it isn’t about the production of the human spirit, we are in big trouble.” – Anita Roddick

32. “If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.” – Anita Roddick

33. “If I can’t do something for the public good, what the hell am I doing?” – Anita Roddick

34. “To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.” – Anita Roddick

35. “You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization.” – Anita Roddick

36. “Mess with nature and it will mess right back…” – Anita Roddick

37. “When you take the high moral road it is difficult for anyone to object without sounding like a complete fool.” – Anita Roddick

38. “There are only two ways of making money: the hard way and the very hard way!” – Anita Roddick

39. “I wake up every morning thinking…this is my last day. And I jam everything into it. There’s no time for mediocrity. This is no damned dress rehearsal.” – Anita Roddick

40. “The growth of The Body Shop is testimony to the fact that you don’t need to waste money on costly advertising campaigns to be successful. Instead, we’ve always relied on word of mouth and stories.” – Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote

41. “When your back is against the wall financially, creative juices flow.” – Anita Roddick

42. “It’s about creating a product or service so good that people will pay for it. Now 30 years on The Body Shop is a multi local business with over 2045 stores serving over 77 million customers in 51 different markets in 25 different languages and across 12 time zones. And I haven’t a clue how we got here!” – Anita Roddick

43. “The bigger you grow, the more intimate communication has to be. It almost has to be belly and belly. As you get bigger and bigger in an organization, everything gets more and more detached and everything is on email or voicemail. That’s the worse thing because lack of intimacy is one of the downsides (of growth).” – Anita Roddick

44“You persuade people with passion, so you’ve got to have a product or service you feel emotionally charged about. Then you can tell stories about it that will inspire others.”Anita Roddick

45. “My goal was livelihood. We don’t use that word often enough. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone it’s don’t obsess with this notion that you have to turn everything you do into a business, because that ends up being a small version of a large company. But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.” – Anita Roddick

46. “My argument is: keep the bloody bottom line at the bottom. That’s where it should be.” – Anita Roddick

47. “Travel is like a university without walls.” – Anita Roddick

48. “Being good is good business.” – Anita Roddick

49. “I am aware that success is more than a good idea. It is timing too.” – Anita Roddick

50. “A vision is something you see and others don’t. Some people would say that’s a pocket definition of lunacy. But it also defines entrepreneurial spirit.” – Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote

51. “I think the leadership of a company should encourage the next generation not just to follow, but to overtake. The duty of leadership is to put forward ideas, symbols, metaphors of the way it should be done, so that the next generation can work out new and better ways of doing the job. The complaint Gordon and I have is that we are not being overtaken by our staff. We would like to be able to say, “We can’t keep up with you guys”, but, it is not happening.” – Anita Roddick

52. “Running a company on market research is like driving while looking in the rear-view mirror.” – Anita Roddick

53. “Three components make an entrepreneur: the person, the idea and the resources to make it happen.” – Anita Roddick

54. “You’ve got to be hungry – for ideas, to make things happen and to see your vision made into reality.”Anita Roddick

55. “It’s frustrating sometimes to see the mismatch in resources between the pointless and the urgent, isn’t it. Like the gap between the vast resources poured into military technological research to make war more sophisticated, and the trickle that goes into developing techniques that might prevent war instead.” – Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick - The Business Anecdote


👉 Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Anita Roddick”, Oxford, UK Published: 1 February 2006. Last updated: 11th April 2019.

Photos from:

  1. Speakola

  2. The Argus

  3. The Body Shop - Twitter

  4. The Body Shop Malaysia

If we have left out any references please contact us and let us know.


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