D7 is named after Dame Anita Roddick, a crusading British businesswoman, environmental campaigner and human rights activist. She was best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company which shaped ethical consumerism, but she also campaigned for debt relief for Third World nations, the rights of indigenous peoples in South America and the preservation of the rain forest, to name a few causes.
Born on 23rd October 1942 in Littlehampton, England, Roddick worked hard from an early age helping her Italian immigrant parents who ran a café. Her mother wanted Anita to be a teacher, but after a year in Paris in the library of the International Herald Tribune and another year in Geneva working for the United Nations, Roddick travelled through Europe, the South Pacific and Africa. During her journeys, she became acquainted with the rituals and customs of many Third World cultures, including their forms of health and body care.
She married Gordon Roddick in 1970 and after he decided to fulfil a long-standing personal goal to ride a horse from Buenos Aires to New York, Anita looked for ways to support herself and her daughters. She opened the first outlet of The Body Shop in 1976 with the aim to provide excellent skin care in containers that could be refilled. By 1991, the business had expanded to 700 outlets by 1991 and in the same year Roddick received the World Vision Award for Development Initiative. Her knighthood from the Queen came 1988.
By 2004 there were nearly 2000 Body Shop stores serving more than 77 million customers all over the world and the company was ranked 28th among the world’s top most brands. The couple showed very vocal support for causes such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, saving the rainforests and banning animal testing and these core values set the company apart from its competitors and generated a loyal customer base. In 2006, The Body Shop was bought by L’Oreal for £652 million, allowing the Roddicks to still keep an eye on the business but also carry out their philanthropic work.
She established COTE (Children on the Edge) an organisation founded to protect those affected by natural disasters, HIV/AIDS and disabilities, was a member of Demos (UK Think Tank) and also authored a book called ‘Take it Personally’ which promoted equality and discouraged the mistreatment of children and workers in the underdeveloped countries.
Roddick was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2004 which she had while giving birth to her younger daughter. Later on she also developed liver cirrhosis and died due to brain haemorrhage on 10th September 2007, leaving her entire estate to charity. She also left behind a legacy of what one small business owner can accomplish with a simple idea, some creativity, a community based vision, a commitment to her employees and customers, and a willingness to work as hard as it took to succeed.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”
Ms M Holian