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The Body Shop Gets Lost in Corporate Seas

Feb 25, 2024 | Daily Trek, Tales from the Trek

The Body Shop's Journey Through Corporate Seas - Radical Trekking - Ayelet Baron

The Body Shop’s Raises the Bar

The Body Shop’s story is a deep dive into ethical beauty’s corporate journey. It makes us think about the fine line of staying true to who we are at the core and shareholder value.

In1976, Anita Roddick aimed to make business a force for good with her husband Gordon. “Social and environmental dimensions are woven into the fabric of the company itself. They are neither first nor last among our objectives, but an ongoing part of everything we do.” This vision shaped the beauty industry with new standards that respected the Earth and brought awareness to our wellness.

Anita Roddick’s products stood out because The Body Shop never tested on live animals. This is common now, but back then, it was revolutionary. Cosmetic companies commonly tested products on animals. In the mid-1970s, for instance, companies would test shampoos by applying them to rabbits’ eyes to check for irritation. She refused to follow this cruel practice and made people aware that conscious practices benefit both the business and society at large.

Over 40 years, they’ve campaigned for change and challenged beauty industry standards, living the mission. A commitment to align with their foundational goal of promoting a fairer, more beautiful world. The Body Shop introduced the real living wage in the UK and other markets, earned BCorp certification, developed a Purpose Driven Leadership program for store managers, and focused intensively on Community Fair Trade in various countries.

Anita Roddick’s sold The Body Shop to L’Oréal in 2006. It moved from L’Oréal to Natura, then to Aurelius, struggling to keep core values in corporate shifts.

But The Body Shop Gets Lost in Corporate Seas

The Body Shop’s shifting ownership blurred its founding ideals. This transition sheds light over corporate deals clashing with brand ethos, particularly driven by profit and growth. Anita Roddick’s decision to sell to L’Oréal ignited discussions on prioritizing financial gains over preserving a unique identity. Each subsequent owner, notably Aurelius, faced challenges in maintaining the brand’s ethical stance, mirroring the journey of Ben and Jerry’s story.

The Body Shop’s path reflects the clash between social and environmental values and business goals. Yet, its legacy of ethical business, fair trade, and sustainability remains influential. Maybe with the natural cycle of life and death, we make room for their legacy to live on in a world where we are increasingly aware of what we apply to our skin and consume.

“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.”

It also asks us who we support with our resources and why knowing the source of everything, including ownership not just stories, is so important to our health and wellbeing. Moving forward, The Body Shop’s story offers lessons on the power of purpose-driven leadership and the importance of values. It asks us to question everything.

Can we value integrity through our actions and stay true to healthy living?

Let’s remember that Anita Roddick’s legacy are her values in action and what she created continues to have ripples. “Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded”― Anita Roddick

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