In honour of Anita

If Anita can whip up an empire, you can too

I heard the news about Anita Roddick’s passing last night on JJJ’s Hack program. I have to admit I was quite shocked to hear it – in fact emotionally touched and saddened… still am.

As Dave so eloquently put it “She left the planet and it’s inhabitants with a much better chance of survival than if she had not been born…”

Anita was absolute hero of mine. I first heard about the Body Shop’s “different” way of doing things, and thought I’d read Anita’s semi-biography “Business as unusual“. It was tremendously inspiring to read about Anita’s journey from the small shop recycling bottles because she had to, to the spread of the Body Shop internationally.

Through the Body Shop she was a pioneer of what was to become known as Fair Trade, took an activist stance on animal testing and women’s rights, all the while building a successful international business. Proof positive that profits do not have to trump people and the environment – they can happily work together.

Throughout her life she was a passionate human rights and environmental activist, who really was alone for many, many years in her role as ethical business-woman. (Business-woman period, for that matter.) Her later books were a call to action for us all to take a stand, to “take it personally”, and to make our voices heard and our actions count.

I found myself quite emotionally low last night. I feel I personally owe her a debt of gratitude, even though I’ve never met her in person.

But I think about what her advice might be – I think (I hope) it would be “keep fighting the fight and make whatever difference you can, in work and life”. Hopefully I can do that sentiment justice…

To paraphrase Augie March: Anita, thanks for the memes. Your life is an inspiration.

Anita Roddick

P.S. both images on this post were taken from the home page of AnitaRoddick.com, Anita’s personal website. Check it out and help Anita’s legacy live on…

Update: Philippa over at ActNow posted a great opinion piece on Anita. “However, the loss of this figure should not bring us to look hopelessly at the sky but requires consumer’s attention to be cast on other businesses and their actual intentions towards their stakeholders.”

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