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OPINION: Dewberry scented memories

OPINION: Dewberry scented memories

Wednesday 14 February 2024

OPINION: Dewberry scented memories

Wednesday 14 February 2024

As a teenager of the 1990s, the risk of losing The Body Shop hit my memories hard and reawakened my senses, bringing the scents of Dewberry, White Musk, and Ananya flooding back.

It was always such a cool shop... it was woke before woke existed in fact.

Founded by Anita Roddick, the business was built on her personal principles against animal testing, and in favour of fair trade, and minimum waste. 

Roddick was also renowned for her support of Greenpeace and Amnesty International. She sold the business in 2006 and died the following year, but her commitment to ethical trading is her legacy, and it was ground breaking in the 1970s when she launched her first shop.

It was these ethical vibes which enticed my friends and I into The Body Shop when we had very little money and absolutely no sense of style, but a desire for both along with the feel good factor from believing we were helping save animals along the way. 


Pictured: There are hopes that insolvency practitioners may be able to negotiate lower rates in order to bring down day-to-day costs and save some of The Body Shop stores.  

The Body Shop was bought by L'oreal in 2006 - a firm which used animal testing - and in 2017 another cosmetics firm, Natura bought it, before private equity group Aurelius took it on in 2023.

The news yesterday that Aurelius has put the UK business of The Body Shop into administration shocked my inner Alanis Morrisette to my core. How could a business with such ethical roots be struggling so much in a world as woke as ours seems to be today? "Isn't it ironic?" Alanis might sing.  

It's not worth getting angry about decisions made by faceless private equity groups but the possible loss of an individual shop as vibrant as The Body Shop once was is sad news indeed. It's clear that store closures and job losses will be felt across the UK but it's unclear what the administration might mean for the store in Guernsey and the one in Jersey.

The Commercial Arcade shop has been there for as long as I can remember, and as hazy as some of those memories might be, there are some aspects which remain crystal clear.

The packaging was bright, the flavours were exotic and it sold things in tiny small packets which fitted Saturday job budgets.

Saturdays spent spraying and smelling all of the body mists... heavenly. Dewberry and Ananya were the smell of the 90s for me, and I know I'm not alone. 

The Body Shop was much more than nice little bottles of eau de whatever though. Do you remember the little bath pearls? Beautiful to look at, divine to smell, lethal if you trod on one while getting into your bath.

The shampoos and shower gels came in funky fragrances like banana. Tubs of shea body butter were a status symbol. If you used the henna products you were the coolest of the cool. 

The make up was ethical - it all said 'no animal testing' and in an age where we did believe everything before us, that meant you could feel extra good about yourself as you slathered on the foundation which probably didn't match your skin tone. (The 90s did not come with Youtube tutorials on applying your own make up after all...)

One of my personal favourites from The Body Shop range was always the little sheets of blotting paper.  No other version has ever come close to the success of The Body Shop for blotting away teenage grease on a wannabe-matte face. 

And the hemp hand cream was a god send...before any of us really needed it. Perhaps if I'd bought more hemp hand cream my hands wouldn't be feeling quite so dry right now, and The Body Shop might not be going bust? There's some 90s existential guilt for you...why didn't we save the world before it needed saving? I dunno - we had lots of magazines to read back then. Life was busy.  

The sad fact is, the world needs Anita Roddick's ethics, and my skin needs The Body Shop's products, more now than it ever did in the 90s, just as it seems set to close.


Future of Body Shop unclear as firm enters administration

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