“The magic of living life for me is, and always has been, the magic of living on the land, not in the magic of money.”—Burt Shavitz, co-founder of Burt's Bees
I've always wanted to know the story behind Burt's Bees, whose lip balms have been close companions of mine over many a dry and windy season.
It's been impossible not to notice the company's meteoric expansion over the past couple of years; whereas once the product was found mainly in health food stores and food coops, it now seems that kiosks and endcaps featuring Burt's Bees products are springing up everywhere, from large grocery store chains like Hannafords and Whole Foods to fancy cosmetics vendors in midtown Manhattan. All this has made me wonder who that bearded man on the Burt's Bees package really is and what lies behind the exponential growth of this brand. (Which, by the way, delivers an excellent product.) I've also wondered about the beekeeping practices utilized at Burt's Bees, which emphasizes the idea of "all-natural" in its branding strategy.
Beekeeping practices are not the main subject of the fascinating New York Times article about Burt's Bees that appeared this weekend, but in the article you will learn:
* That all the beeswax used in Burt's Bees products comes from Ethiopia;
* Plenty of (semi-)juicy gossip about the company's co-founders;
* Details of the rather amazing saga of the company's recent purchase by Clorox for a whopping $913 million;
* That Burt Shavitz lives (by choice) in a modestly renovated turkey coop;
* The range of sustainable practices undertaken by Burt's Bees;
* and much, much more.
The article provides an intriguing glimpse into the odd bedfellows coming into being as large corporations seek to "shack up" with green businesses that offer impressive bottom lines and, potentially, a green-hued halo effect for even the most eco-hostile corporation. Only time will tell if Clorox will make good on its promise to embrace some of Burt's Bees earth-friendly practices, or whether this is just another instance of bleaching the green out of Green.