Review

Business As Unusual: The Triumph of Anita Roddick and the Body Shop

by Anita Roddick

Twenty-five years ago Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop, a
successful combination of hippie chick values and women-celebrating
cosmetics. She has written a book about her adventures as
saleswoman/avatar of progressive business manuevers/world-renowned
activism called BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL. It's a hefty tome that will
instigate a great deal of discussion amongst The Body Shop's
protractors (rife in England and around the world) and inspire
other business owners whose own commitment to socially aware
capitalist ventures are just beginning.
Roddick obviously has great self-confidence and is completely
and utterly happy with her success and her ability to combine
projects and products from indigenous cultures around the globe
into the pretty displays in the windows of her easy-to-spot green
storefronts. She regales us with a play-by-play of her freeform
life experiences as a Kibbutz teacher and restaurateur before
heading into her chosen field of cosmetics. As a mother of two, her
concern was to create a livelihood for her family while her
freewheeling husband was trekking across the Americas. When the
family reunited in London, Roddick combined her world traveler
expertise with the knowledge she had gained from a wide variety of
body rituals she had seen enacted by women around the world; and it
was this sense of a global culture that traveled back to her when
The Body Shop started up. Soon she was concocting these women's
special spiritual oils and balms into a ravishingly successful
business, geared at "celebrating women" instead of demeaning them,
as the general fashion world seemed to.
Roddick had already written such a book many years ago and
self-published it through The Body Shop. This book is very much a
fancier rehash of that book, but if you are not familiar with the
earlier work, you will find her distinctively open and honest and
proud style compelling and the story of her rise to the top of her
industry, with her integrity intact (or so she claims), a rousing
tale of New World success.
Regardless of whether you ultimately see her as saint or
stealer, BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL is a great handbook for today's
entrepreneurs who hope to make big bucks while benefiting those
around the world whose indigenous crafts and cultural achievements
can be exotically entwined into Western Hemisphere life. I enjoyed
reading about her life and her exploits, particularly her travels,
and have no personal problem with her politics.
Every successful person has their detractors, but it is rare
that you get so much from a personal memoir of a business person.
Any woman looking for inspiration in her own self-created business
stratum will sense in Roddick a soul mate.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 21, 2011

Business As Unusual: The Triumph of Anita Roddick and the Body Shop
by Anita Roddick

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2001
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons
  • ISBN-10: 0722539878
  • ISBN-13: 9780722539873