Ask Anita

Ask an expert—Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the The Body Shop, is holding free sessions at the British Library for social and ethical businesses. Successful applicants will get advice on start-up, marketing and product development. Roddick spoke there, as part of a series on "Inspiring Entrepreneurs". She said "in terms of influence you can forget the church and you can forget politics. There is no more powerful institution in our society than business it is now more important than ever before, for business to assume a moral leadership". She felt that her biggest mistake was going public--hurrying on to the stock market. In an interview today, Anita was more candid. When asked whether she had sold out, she said " I've done exactly what the original staff in The Body Shop would expect. I've sold the company, I've sold my shares and given my money away - that's exactly what the system was about." She was surprised at the backlash about Nestle buying The Body Shop but still doesn't understand it since "everybody thinks that any money made goes to Nestlé but it doesn't - it stays within The Body Shop. L'Oréal ringfences the money. It goes to develop The Body Shop." She says that L'Oreal is not the enemy, there was no boycott afterwards and sales did not drop. She has put £30M into her foundation and can now donate about £3M a year to activist causes. When asked if The Body Shop would ever do an anti-ageing cream she was quite vehement: I don't care what The Body Shop does any more. The Body Shop is not my problem, I don't own it. I'm not The Body Shop. Stop talking to me about The Body Shop. Talk to me about my real life. Right, so, her beauty secret: Clean like crazy and exfoliate. :: Guardian and :: The British Library