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The Man Behind the Face of Burt’s Bees

Posted by Andrea Welzien on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

The history of Burt’s Bees originated in Maine in 1984. Ingram Berg Shavitz – who changed his name to Burt when he graduated from high school – was from Long Island originally, and moved to Manhattan upon graduation. He had a nice career, working as a photographer for Life and Time Magazines. In 1970, not long after he’d moved to Manhattan, he decided the city life wasn’t for him and he moved to the rural county of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Shavitz grew a long beard and began a hobby of beekeeping which he enjoyed. The company’s name, Burt’s Bees, resulted when Shavitz started labeling his hives with “Burt’s Bees” to keep them from being stolen. He started selling honey out of his truck on the side of the road, and quickly earned a good reputation from locals.

In 1984, Shavitz met a woman named Roxanne Quimby, and they started out in a romantic relationship before becoming business partners. Shavitz showed Quimby a book of beeswax recipes, and they began making candles to sell, in addition to honey. Their products were flying off the “shelves” (actually Burt’s truck), so they quickly started creating new products and finally incorporated the company in 1991.

As the company’s success grew, so did Quimby’s drive for money and she became more aggressive in her vision to progress the business. Shavitz, however, was content to continue leading the life he had – he had no desire for wealth or a life of luxury. They both eventually parted ways, the details of which remain a bit controversial. In 1999, Quimby bought the company from Shavitz and gave him a humble $130,000 house. Not even five years later, Quimby sold the company and made over $300 million. Sadly Shavitz missed out on the deal, but Quimby did later give him $4 million – a small percentage of the company he started. Shavitz however, never cared about the money and went on to live a life he loved, being in the outdoors and one with nature. Through his company, the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation was established – “a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining charitable, grassroots initiatives that support human and honeybee health”. It has raised over $2.4 million in grants funding and has donated more than $330,000 to nonprofit organizations. It’s a tribute to Burt Shavitz that the company still prides itself on making earth-friendly products with natural ingredients.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 at 5:11 pm and is filed under Cosmetic Leaders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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