Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby

Today we celebrate Burt Shavitz – a beekeeper – and Roxanne Quimby – a candle maker – for their business creation, Burt’s Bees.

The story goes that Burt was a bit of a recluse, living in an old turkey coop and selling honey from a pickup truck. He first met Roxanne while she was hitchhiking along a highway in Maine in 1984. He stopped to pick her up and the two bonded immediately.

The two combined talents and began making beeswax candles to sell at craft fairs throughout New England. In 1988 Burt and Roxanne decided to expand production, as larger orders of their candles were beginning to sell – most notably to a New York boutique which ordered hundreds at a time. Around that time, according to the company website, Roxanne stumbled upon a 19th century book of homemade personal care recipes. And the rest is history.

In 1991, Burt’s Bees incorporated embarked on a campaign to bring several new products to market – including the beeswax lip balm, which is still their best-selling product – and expand their production facility. They relocated to North Carolina where the company resides today.

In 1999, Quimby bought Shavitz’s stake in the company for an estimated $4 million. In 2003, Quimby sold 80% of the company to AEA investors for roughly $146 million. In 2007, she sold the remaining portion to Clorox when they reportedly bought the entire company for $925 million.

Today Shavitz’s face is somewhat a familiar one – his is the bearded man pictured on each of the Burt’s Bees products. Burt’s Bees is available in nearly every big box department store and grocery chain – Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, etc. We celebrate Shavitz and Quimby as today’s Heroes of Capitalism for their outstanding rags-to-riches success.

LA Times


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