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Business as Unusual: The Triumph of Anita Roddick Hardcover – January 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons; 1st edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722539878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722539873
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,756,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Flaunting a title like Business as Unusual, Anita Roddick's company biography is anything but your run-of-the-mill book on how to create, nurture, and run a successful company. While it does give a firsthand account of the birth of The Body Shop and Roddick's own particular leadership style of creative (and sometimes chaotic) passion, it doubles as a clarion call for business to tackle the big issues of life alongside the pursuit of profits, with heart, soul and conscience.

Roddick grew up in a large Italian immigrant family in small town in blue-collar England, where she was instilled with an intense work ethic and an irreverent, entrepreneurial spirit. Though she admits to having opened her first Body Shop as a way to make ends meet, Roddick developed the company around her zealous belief that, since there is "no more powerful institution in society than business ... it is more important than ever before for business to assume a moral leadership in society." Her concern for protecting the environment and indigenous people's cultures, and of seeing all of life as interconnected, have directed the growth of the company and inspired much of this book. Her account moves from an initial description of what she sees as the problem with "business as usual," through a history of The Body Shop as illustrating her philosophies on fostering passionate activism, building community, making it as a woman, and succeeding in business. Though Roddick's tone occasionally lapses into what might be interpreted as a rather self-righteous one (particularly in her references to most of the company's competition as merely "imitation"), it is driven by a feisty belief in her ideals. The chapter that describes The Body Shop launch into the U.S. market and its subsequent problems with intense competition is not exactly an American love-fest, but for those readers on this side of the Atlantic who don't take themselves too seriously, it's an informative and often amusing take on the trials of cross-cultural marketing. While praise of The Body Shop's good deeds to date is woven into much of what she discusses, Roddick is not afraid of being honest. Indeed, she presents some of the company's less flattering underbelly, such as a failed experiment in trading directly with an indigenous tribe and the unsuccessful "reorganization" of the company by an unresearched external consultant, which is far more daring than most business leaders are in discussing their corporate offspring. The book would have benefited from a more detailed and less defensive presentation of the media storm that surrounded the company from 1992 to 1994 (which comes dangerously close to being a diatribe), but Roddick's conversational writing style--extremely effective in relaying fervent dedication--doesn't leave room for a lot of legal analysis.

This is an entertaining read with a serious message, a lilting and somewhat whimsical manifesto. Not merely the story of one woman's pursuit of business success and the history and philosophy of The Body Shop, it is an invigorating guidebook for anyone eager to marry an entrepreneurial, principled spirit with a keen sense of social justice. --S. Ketchum

From Publishers Weekly

The founder of an upscale English cosmetics company well established on these shores, Roddick fervently believes that companies should be more than simply profitable: they "must actively do good" in the environment and for labor, serving as "incubators of the human spirit." Roddick has put her money where her mouth is by making the Body Shop one of the first companies to integrate recycling into its daily operations, and committing time and money to various environmental causes. In this rambling autobiography/ management tome, she tells how she founded her companyDone of the first to introduce a mix of organic products now offered by many (most notably Bath & Body Works). She also describes her successful court challenge to the BBC and ABC documentaries that nearly destroyed her company by suggesting that, contrary to her claims, her products were tested on animals. Roddick can be hard to take when she soapboxes about the need for businesses to change the world. Her keenest insights are on how passion and opportunism can launch a business; she also has much of value to say about how she refashioned her business in order to survive.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Noelene Le Roy on January 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A dynamic book, reflecting page by page a visually creative presentation that challenges the reader to step beyond the words to discover multiple layers of interrelationships and values. The book undertakes to demonstrate her life's purpose of protecting and valuing humanity and the environment whilst still developing a profitable business.
Roddick presents her story, "Business as Unusual" by modeling the same constructs that have underpinned the ethical, moral and business essences of "The Body Shop".
The sometimes humorous but always poignant captions, quotes and pictorial representations through out the writing, demonstrates the importance Roddick places on communication. The book also scaffolds the in depth discussion that is used to deconstruct "The Body Shop" story.
Roddick does ascribe and briefly describe basic no nonsense commonsense information and elements inherent for all business. She also explores a range of interesting anecdotes, practical problems and ethical values.
The reader is encouraged and dared to ponder and reflect on basic elements such as child care, gender discrimination and female beauty whilst being whisked away to analyse the heavier issues of the Amazon and Hemp.
Roddick concludes the writing by sharing ten lessons that describe practical information which she suggests may guide the reinvention of the "The Body Shop" of the future.
An "unusual" story; certainly worth a read; definitely challenges the creative mind and makes no bones about business responsibility to humanity and the environment.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roy W. MacNaughton on May 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
....This is the story of that woman and the company she founded.
Today, with over 1,800 Body Shops worldwide, and many a dissenting corporate CEO cursing at the very mention of her name, she commands an empire that still stands for something of value in this world. Anita is one of the very few people I have read or studied, that truly "walks her walk". The others merely pay lip service to the environment or other cultures less 'civilized' than ours. Like Anita, this book really "tells it like it is."
This book should be mandatory reading for every MBA student in the world. Perhaps being exposed to Anita's philosophies, examples and case studies of how to build from a start-up to an international retailing empire, will help save a few of them from the "nothing matters but the quarterly bottom line" syndrome. Anita's book lays out a positive path and a myriad of methods one can use to identify, analyze and address business problems and opportunities in a sane manner.
It is a way of doing business that first takes into consideration people, not just profits.
It's a company with "attitude".
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Renesch - "The Great Growing Up" on December 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anita Roddick is an exceptional woman. She is also an exceptional business owner. This book contains a wonderful mix of shared personal experience - including the joys, wonders and pain of being on the front lines in a company dedicated to socially responsible values. Roddick is a true pioneer, alongwith a handful of other business owners throughout the world, blazing trails for businesses with a conscience. There are no maps for what she's done or what she is continuing to do, to make the world a better place.
Thank God for people like Anita Roddick!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Ngiau on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Body Shop is a household name and a corporation with an atttitude. Anita built the company on her beliefs and always stood for what she believed in.
I was a little disappointed with this book. I was expecting to read about how she started the company, what drove her to start, her fears, etc but what I found was a book filled with her philosophies mixed with her story on how she grew her business. If you're doing an MBA, yes by all means, this is a great book as it gives you different and fresh business perspectives but if you're looking for a "how I made it book", you may be a little disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Harris on December 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I agree this book is incredibly inspirational and empowering. It is however a shame that Roddick fails to credit the Art Student (me) who was paid GBP25 in 1977 to design the now famous logo. I also printed the original product labels for the first shop. When I mentioned this to her in 2003 her only comment was; "That must have been a coup for you". Inspirational indeed.
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