You Ask the Questions: Anita Roddick ; (Such As: So, Anita Roddick, What's So Great about the Rainforest Anyway?)

Article excerpt

Businesswoman Anita Roddick, 57, was born and brought up in Littlehampton, the daughter of Italian immigrants. Her father, a cafe owner, died when she was 10, leaving her to run the business with her mother. She opened the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976 as a means of earning a living for her and her two young daughters while her husband Gordon was trekking across the Americas. The timing coincided with the beginnng of European interest in green issues, and her trademark green-liveried shops quickly placed environmental issues firmly on the high-street agenda. Since then, she has been the recipient of countless awards, and there are now 1,740 branches of the Body Shop worldwide.

Your Mostly Men product line has always bemused me. Is it that it's mostly men you use the line? Or is it a slur on their masculinity? (I've always been partial to the jojoba products myself.)

P Collins, Belfast

I loved Mostly Men but I guess not enough other people did because we changed it to For Men. Less ambiguous, More predictable. Sad, that.

Don't you think that The Body Shop is helping to perpetuate neo- colonialist trade patterns, thus undermining the internal, political and economic stability in Asia, Africa and Latin America?

Kristine Stave, London

Give me a break! Our expanding Community Trade partnerships are built on mutual respect and mutual benefits. They get a fair deal and we get a great product. Supporting local economic self-reliance is a light at the end of the poverty tunnel.

What's so great about the rainforest anyway?

M Robinson, by e-mail

They're the lungs of the planet. They're home to millions of people whose indigenous wisdom probably holds the key to our future well-being, And they're amazingly beautiful. Anything else?

What advice would you offer Martha Lane Fox?

Kay Bishop, Eastbourne

The market eats its young.

What's the most unwholesome thing you've ever done?

R Beecroft, Cheltenham

Unwholesome? Me? I'm as pure as the driven slush. But if you want disgusting, I have eaten things I'd have been better off not knowing about - like fermented yak-butter tea in a hut in the Humla in Nepal.

Did you feel passionate about the environment as a child, or was it something that struck you later in life?

Eileen Bradshaw, Nottingham

Feel passionate about it? I couldn't even spell it! But my antennae were always up, so groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth inevitably got through to me. And travel was my university without walls.

You will go down in history as a pioneer for women in business. How does this make you feel?

Tara Wiseman, by e-mail

Happy to have done that much, sad that there was so much to do in the first place and challenged that there is still so much to do.

Ethical businesses seem to attract more than their fair share of detractors. …