Burt Shavitz, the bearded old man whose face has graced the packaging of Burt’s Bees since 1984 has passed away at age 80. Shavitz was the co-founder of Burt’s Bees, which makes natural personal care cosmetics catered towards both men and women.
Shavitz was a hippie living on a farm in Maine, tending to his turkeys everyday, using a wooden stove. He was also the luckiest guy ever.
He was originally from Great Neck, New York, where, during his younger years, he was a freelance photographer for papers such as Time, The New York Times and Life. In 1970, he decided that his time in New York was coming to a close, and wanted to start a new chapter elsewhere. He traveled upstate to the High Falls area where he stumbled upon a beehive by chance.
He’s stated in a previous interview done for The Daily Beast that in the late 60s, he was given the equipment necessary to tend to the hives, but not beehives itself. He took advantage of the hive, and began selling honey from the back of his Volkswagen van.
Shavitz finally got the chance to move out of the state, and relocated to Maine after receiving an inheritance from his grandfather after his passing. Also, by chance, he met his future business partner and lover Roxanne Quimby who was purchasing his honey to make candles.
Come circa 1993, Burt’s Bees managed to generate about $3 million in revenue. The partners parted ways in 1999, but the company revenue grew to over $200 million, and then eventually was bought out by the Clorox Company.
In 2013, Jody Shapiro directed a documentary titled Burt’s Buzz, which was premiered at TIFF in the same year. It follows the life of Shavitz, from the honey-making hippie to the entrepreneur we all know and love today.
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