Anita Roddick//

If I can't do something for the public good, what the hell am I doing?

In the late 20th century, Anita Roddick attempted to achieve something, many people thought impossible: creating a business which would be both commercially successful and ethically sound.

She opened the first ever Body Shop, near Brighton in 1976. It soon expanded into a massive beauty shop franchise selling soaps and other assorted smelly things throughout the world.

Before long, it was a massive success. A brilliant publicist, Roddick became a well known public figure. She did come to regret floating the business on the stock market, however. “The minute we went public on the stock market, which is how our wealth was created, it was no longer how many people you employed, it was how much you were worth and how much your company was worth,” she said later.

Roddick, who became Dame Anita in 2003, gave away most of her fortune via the charitable Roddick Foundation.

She fell ill with hepatitis C – “It's a bit of a bummer,” she said, “but you groan and move on” – and died in 2007, having made a definite impact as one of the great British businesspeople of all time.

“There is no scientific answer for success,” she had said.

“You can't define it. You've simply got to live it and do it.”