Body and Soul by Anita Roddick

Body and Soul

RATING: 7/10…READ: May 4, 2011

The amazing journey of Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. Written in 1991, Anita details her journey into social entrepreneurship and her status quo challenging principles ahead of its time even today. The book is 40% focused on business and 60% on her biographical story with many chapters devoted to body shop’s social causes involvement. A great insight into a go-with-your-gut entrepreneur.

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-I am still looking for the modern day equivalent of those Quakers who ran successful businesses, made money because they offered honest products and treated their people decently, worked hard, spent honestly, saved honestly, gave honest value for money, put back more than they took out and told no lies, this business creed, sadly, seems long forgotten.

-The big growth area is not in fragrance or make-up, but in skin care products, yet the simple truth is that such products can do nothing more than cleanse, polish and protect the skin and hair. That’s it. Amen. End of Story. There are no magic potions, no miracle cures, no rejuvenating creams. That is all hype and lies.

-The plain truth is that no cosmetic product can prevent the aging process…any product that could do that would not be a cosmetic, it would be a drug.

-It does not matter if it is in a plastic pot and costs £2 a litre or if it is in a cut-glass designer jar with a solid gold stopper and costs £200 per gram. The net result is essentially the same.

-It is in the convincing – the marketing – that the real science lies, and it is there that the budgets are fattest.

-If you hit the jackpot with a new fragrance it is like having an oil well in your back yard, since you can charge up to a £100 a gram for a product that might cost no more than £1 to manufacture.

-Who pays for this extravagance? The consumer, of course. (in regards to marketing budgets)

-In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope. – Charles Revlon.

-I have never met someone in the cosmetics industry who doesn’t know – with absolute certainty – that nothing they produce can do anything more than cleanse, polish, and protect the skin and hair. But do they care? Of course they don’t.

-It is immoral to trade on fear. It is immoral constantly to make women feel dissatisfied with their bodies. It is immoral to deceive a customer by making miracle claims for a product. It is immoral to use a photograph of a glowing sixteen-year-old to sell a cream aimed at preventing wrinkles in a forty-year-old.

-If a product is marketed too cheaply then no one will believe it is any good. So they ponder the question of the price from the opposite perspective: not ‘what is the least we can charge?’ but ‘what is the most we can get away with charging?”

-Business not only bears a responsibility to effect change, but ought to be the instigator of that change.

-I didn’t want to change the world; I just wanted to survive and be able to feed my kids. If it hadn’t worked, I would have found something else to do.

-I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur. My motivation for going into the cosmetics business was irritation: I was annoyed at the fact that you couldn’t buy small sizes of everyday cosmetics and angry with myself that I was always too intimidated to go back and exchange something if I didn’t like it. I also recognized that a lot of the money I was paying for a product was being spent on fancy packaging which I didn’t want.

-They thought packaging was important; I thought it was totally irrelevant; we happily filled old lemonade bottles with our products if a customer asked.

-They spent millions on market research; we simply said to our customers, ‘Tell us what you want and we will try and get it for you.’

-They had enormous advertising budgets; we have never spent a cent on advertising. At the beginning we couldn’t afford it, and by the time we could afford it we had got to the point where I would be too embarrassed to do it.

-They talked about beauty products; I banished the word ‘beauty’.

-They worshipped profits; we didn’t.

-I honestly believe I would have not succeeded if I had been taught about business.

-Skill is not the answer, neither is money. What you need is optimism, humanism, enthusiasm, intuition, curiosity, love, humor, magic and fun and that secret ingredient – euphoria. None of this appears on the curriculum of any business school.

-For us, business is to keep the company alive and breathlessly excited, to protect the workforce, to be a force for good in our society and then, after all that, to think of the speculators.

-We use our shops worldwide as ‘arenas of education’ to proselytize among staff, customers and passers-by on issues as diverse as the destruction of the rainforests and the spread of Aids.

-We preach and teach; we educate and inform. We do not, for example, train our staff to sell; I hate high-pressure sales techniques…we want to spark conversations with our customers, not browbeat them to buy.

-Until you have traded for more than a year you can’t really see how things are building up. You survive for the first year with little breakthroughs, indications that you are doing OK. In the second year you are able to compare your figures each month with the previous year and get a clearer indication of what progress you are making. Figures never really meant much to me.

-Such figures got to mean less and less to me. I often wished that our success could be measured in quite different ways. How did we rate in terms of education and communication? How did we compare in caring for our staff? How did we make out in fulfilling our social responsibilities? Where did we stand on the quirkiness scale?

-I believe that service – whether it is serving the community or your family or the people you love or whatever – is fundamental to what life is about.

Body Shop’s Business practices:

-First, you have to have fun

-Second, you have to put love where your labor is.

-Third, you have to go in the opposite direction to everyone else.

For an entrepreneur the most important thing is his vision of something new and his determination to see how far that vision or idea will go. He is both a dreamer and a doer, and he welcomes changes because he recognizes that constant change provides constant opportunities.

-We believe it would be obscene to die rich and we intend to ensure we die poor by giving away all our personal wealth, through a foundation of some kind.

-The accumulation of wealth has no meaning for me; neither has the acquisition of material riches. I believe we impoverish ourselves by our tendency to undervalue all the other riches that come from our life experiences – the ones that can’t be bought. This leads us to avoid pursuits such as leisure that don’t yield measurable rewards, and to keep us at work for all the wrong reasons. It is the old story of people acquiring assets for status, to indicate their success.