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Essay on Dame Anita Roddick

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Gia86
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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, refilling, and recycling. In little to no time The Body Shop became famous for its green color and "green" policy.
Dame Anita Roddick: Leadership – Cultural Differences – Global Markets
Anita’s personal beliefs and attitude towards life was never what one would call “conventional” so it is unsurprising that she’s garnered attention for her unorthodox leadership and entrepreneurial stance. As a person Anita was captivating, motivating, and a visionary which also describes her as a leader. Though she began The Body Shop to support her family even from the beginning she incorporated bits and pieces of herself into it, starting with the all natural products and “green” way of doing things. As time went on it became less about profit and more about doing something she felt good about, being daring and different in an industry that she was never really a fan of. She was almost an explorer—daring to be the first, challenging the way things were done. She took risks to bring about great change not only in the beauty industry but in the world itself.
The amazing thing is that The Body Shop remained such an independent yet influential endeavor for so long that Anita was able to make decisions showcasing her affection for the rest of the world and its cultures in a substantial way. She approached adapting to cultural differences and global markets in an unusual way that was near and dear to her heart: community trading. She began partnering with foreign merchants, buying products from them to sell in her stores which not only meant that The Body Shop benefitted from more diverse products but that those merchants—most of them small enterprises to begin with—were able to expand and employ more people.
The Body Shop has always been on point when it comes to offering products that appeal to various cultures and diverse ethnic groups mainly because of Anita’s knowledge of the world and her penchant for thinking outside the box. Her business flourished globally because she understood that women were women whether they were living in huts in Africa or castles in England and she spent enough time exploring different cultures to know which treatments and ingredients were being used and in which manner, which allowed her to bring them altogether in The Body Shop thus allowing women of all cultures to sample and experiment with new beauty products as well as ones they were already familiar with.
Anita Roddick: Theories of Leadership, Management and Individual/Group Motivation
Anita’s theory of leadership was just that – to lead. She was a woman of strong convictions and beliefs and unwilling to compromise her principles for the sake of profit. She led on a platform of change – change within the industry, change within the world. She challenged the notion of “profit” itself, loathing how the industry (and indeed most markets) were only concerned with financial gain. She begged to ask: what about spiritual gain? What about environmental gain? She saw herself as a visionary, working to bring about change through example. To be the first to take a step, to create a niche almost selflessly, Anita was more a woman of action than theory, relying on her sense of self and her divine purpose to steer her in the right direction.
The Body Shop was such a success and run so well by Anita that it’s almost hard to accept that she did it without spending a dime on advertising or marketing for most of her career. It was her personal belief that the products would sell themselves, literally relying on word-of-mouth to bring her customers. As simple as it was it worked and as the brand gained popularity so did Anita for her charitable works. The publicity only added to the success of the company which gave the Roddick’s an even larger avenue to broadcast for social and economic changes.
Starting with two shops run by Anita herself (and her husband), the business began to expand eventually becoming a franchise as friends and family and eventually even strangers began opening their own shops using the name. Profit was again a small concern when it came to who she allowed into the fold—she was mainly concerned that the stores were run by people who stood for what the company stood for and her interviews were known for being quite philosophical.
Anita has famously said: “I am more loyal to my employees than to any other group.” Again this was an area where she was very selective, choosing only individuals who had a genuine interest and desire in social activism even above working in the beauty industry. She challenged and motivated her employees, encouraging them to get involved in causes that meant something to them, even giving them one day a month to further such causes on the company’s dime. Anita was well aware that a happy atmosphere makes for a happy worker so it’s no wonder that The Body Shop was also known for having a low employee turnover rate while she was at the helm. Her employees enjoyed a host of benefits, none greater than the knowledge that they were doing good and having an impact on the world.
Anita Roddick: Affecting the World
Anita believed in change through campaigning, using The Body Shop as a platform to highlight social and economic injustices all over the world. Her fervor and passion for humanity and the planet as a whole inspired and motivated an entire generation and continues to do so today. Though she didn’t start with such a grand vision for The Body Shop it wasn’t long before she realized that that was exactly what she had. She felt an obligation to her customers to offer them the best while making as little of a carbon imprint as she possibly could. That meant using all natural products even though she is credited as being among the first in the beauty industry to do so.
She had an innate sense of right and wrong and refused to compromise herself for the sake of profit. In an industry that seems to flourish by selling consumers dreams and stressing the importance of having the perfect skin/hair/body, Anita stood out by refusing to go with popular marketing and business strategies. She let her products sell themselves and the many causes she was devoted to. It made customers feel good to know they were benefitting themselves as well as others. In addition to being “green” and stressing the importance of reusing/recycling, Anita was also very adamant about not testing on animals, fighting mightily against legislation that might have made it mandatory for businesses to do so. She was a pioneer in the “green” movement long before it became fashionable.
The Body Shop was notorious for teaming up with environmental and human rights organizations such as GreenPeace, Amnesty International and Survival International to bring about change. In 1990, Anita also established The Body Shop Foundation, the organization for distribution of the charitable donations of The Body Shop. The resources were directed to support organizations and individuals working in the field of animal and environment protection, human and civil rights. That same year she founded another charity; Children On the Edge (COTE) to help disadvantaged children.
Dubbed the “Queen of Green”, Anita had always considered herself an accidental entrepreneur. Instead she identified as an activist and ran her business and her life as if the greatest satisfaction, the biggest profit came from helping others, helping the world and making a difference. She was a visionary ahead of her time and were it not for her accomplishments and efforts the beauty industry and its millions of consumers might never have made it this far; to be socially aware and economically responsible for the imprint we leave on the world.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” – Anita Roddick

References
Bio UK. Anita Roddick Bio. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biographies/anita-roddick.html
Famous-Women-and-Beauty. Anita Roddick Biography. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.famous-women-and-beauty.com/anita-roddick-biography.html
My Primetime. Biography: Anita Roddick, The Body Shop. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.myprimetime.com/work/ge/roddickbio/index.shtml
Woopidoo. Anita Roddick Biography. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.woopidoo.com/biography/anita-roddick/index.htm
Entrepeneur. (2008, October 10). Anita Roddick: Cosmetics With A Conscience. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197688
Anita Roddick. (2003, September 9). DISPATCH: Reflections on Success, Part I. Retrieved May 26, 2012 from http://www.anitaroddick.com/readmore.php?sid=154
Anita Roddick. (2003, September 9). DISPATCH: Reflections on Success, Part II. Retrieved May 26, 2012 from http://www.anitaroddick.com/readmore.php?sid=155

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