Holiday Reading: Body and Soul by Anita Roddick

After successfully finishing my second semester of grad school, and taking off time from work for the holidays, I wasted no time picking out books for holiday break! You would think (and I thought), because I am getting a Masters in English Literature, I would not want to only watch Netflix and sleep. Those things are happening too BUT my desire to read for pleasure has surged! A week prior to break, I went on Goodreads and did my research to pick out books via Interlibrary loan.

These were my picks: 
1) “Body and Soul: Profits with Principles – The Amazing Story of Anita Roddick & The Body Shop” by Anita Roddick

2) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

3) “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac with an Introduction by Harold Bloom

3) “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

4) “The Bettencourt Affair: The World’s Richest Woman and the Scandal that Rocked Paris” by Tom Sancton

5) “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur (I actually purchased this off of Amazon because the wait list was so long. Can you imagine being 25 years old and #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List?)

Some of these are classics that you probably know of that I have not read yet. They are all diverse topics from business, poetry, and human evolution. There are genres that I love like nonfiction, but branching out is good for my soul.

In two days, I have read Anita Roddick’s book on the creation of The Body Shop, written in 1991. For those who haven’t heard of The Body Shop, they sell bath and skincare products, and are #1 in the world. They are famous for vigorously campaigning for social causes and using ingredients that come from fair trade. Anita Roddick was actually named Dame of the British Empire prior to her 2007 passing, for all of her contributions towards global welfare.

When I was 19 years old, I worked in my local The Body Shop store as an assistant store manager and it was one of the best jobs I ever had. Management was hands-on in their selling approach – which isn’t really about selling at all: it is about educating the customer about our core values, the benefits of the product, and about building rapport. We certainly weren’t taught to pressure people into buying or only making sales goals. I was lucky to work on a campaign aimed at remediating Safe Harbor Laws for victims of human trafficking, a massively successful petition with millions of signatures, presented to the United Nations.

After reading this book, it all makes sense as to why management at my store were so hand-on. Roddick cared about being as transparent as possible when discussing the products and never claiming that they did things that they didn’t – the 80’s were big on “anti-aging” and gimmicks, she discusses. Roddick wanted to provide natural skincare products without the hype.

Here are my favorite parts of the book:

  • The Body Shop NEVER paid for advertising and when a Harvard Business School professor predicted TBS would require a massive advertising campaign to make it in the U.S., they provided postcards in-store responding, “We will never hire anyone from Harvard Business School.”
  • Roddick never intended her store to become a worldwide brand. Her goal was to make 300 pounds a week for her initial store, so that she would be able to feed her two daughters while her husband was on a two-year horseback mission.
  • The business is co-owned by a man who owned a garage in the 1970’s and lent Roddick 4,000 pounds to open her second store with the stipulation that he would own half the company. Little did he know that by 1991, the business would grow to the hundreds of millions of pounds.
  • At one point, Roddick hired an anthropologist with the sole mission of finding tribes and groups in destitute need, to see if there was a possibility to trade with them. She was a firm believer in “Trade Not Aid,” because many times donations go to the people at the top of the social food chain, and not to the people who need aid the most. By utilizing fair trade practices in all TBS products, people are given fair wages for their labor.
  • TBS’s first partnership campaign was with Save the Whales, and this was the first time a nonprofit partnered with a commercial entity.
  • Roddick made a lot of mistakes but was able to quickly change by listening and adapting. For instance, TBS’s second campaign to stop acid rain initially flopped but they quickly changed the image for the posters to be less confusing.

If interested, you should try to find this book through your library or find it on Amazon. Even better, walk through your local The Body Shop store and ask the salesperson about the products. If the shop workers are anything like my team from way back when, you will begin to believe simple body creams can be magical!

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Author: Melissa

4'8", dog lover, fashion and culture enthusiast.

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