A Success Story – Burt’s Bees

My philosophy is: Why reinvent the wheel? If we can learn from highly successful women who had a vision and turned that vision into a multi-million reality, I say we’d be crazy not to listen and learn.

This is one of my favorite success stories: Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees.

From living without electricity in 1984 to earning over $300 million as owner of Burt’s Bee’s, there are several wealth-building lessons we can learn from Roxanne Quimby.

I’ve discovered some common threads among self-made wealthy women:

  • They are often looking for a financially better way for their family and themselves
  • They never lose sight of what’s important in their life
  • They are willing to take risks and chances
  • They stay true to their core values and beliefs
  • They are determined give back.

Let’s see how Roxanne Quimby’s road to financial success compares to other self-made wealthy women.

1. They are often looking for a financially better future for their family and themselves.

Roxanne attributes the success she experienced at Burt’s Bees to being a mother. In 1984 she was a divorced mother of two children living on thirty acres in rural northern Maine. Home was a small cabin with no electricity. Washing diapers for her twins meant heating water on a wood-burning stove. She loved her rugged way of life.

This rustic lifestyle was her choice, not her children’s. She soon realized that living as a rustic artist was not exposing her children to the “real world.” She recognized that living so remotely could limit her children’s choices in life and knew she’d have to make some financial changes.

One day, she bought some honey from Burt and saw a business opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. They never lose sight of what’s important in their life.

Roxanne Quimby loves a challenge! She chose to live in the Maine woods because she’d have to rely solely on her own skills and talents. Living simply exemplified her philosophy that money is a resource, not a way of living life.

Roxanne knew she would always be self-employed for many reasons. Two of those reasons are the same as so many other self-employed women; 1.) She’s a very independent person, and 2.) She could spend time with her two children.

With Burt’s Bees, she found a way to stay true to what was important in her life – her children, her love of nature, and her independent artistic spirit.

3. They are willing to take risks and chances.

The unwavering confidence Roxanne Quimby had in what she believed to be important, grew Burt’s Bees from a $200 a weekend crafts fair/flea market business into a multi-million dollar corporation.

With her artistic talent, Roxanne took Burt’s honey and began packaging it in little beehive jars adorned with pretty hand-made labels. She started using the beeswax to make homemade candles and sold them to tourists. Next came the beeswax lip balm. Then came the natural skin care products. By 1993 Burt’s Bees was making over $3 million annually.

In the beginning, the corporate offices were housed and the manufacturing done in an old school house she and Burt rented for $150 a year.

Ms. Quimby often said that there is a tremendous amount of “fear” in growing a business but it’s worth it when you see your work pay off financially, socially and personally.

4. They stay true to their core values and beliefs.

Roxanne is passionate about preserving and living in harmony with nature.

Burt’s Bees is a refection of that passion. Her business model is referred to as the “greater good” model. That means the company’s philosophy and policies must be aimed at social responsibility. Burt’s Bees prides itself on engaging only in environmentally friendly practices.

5. They are determined to give back.

Self-made wealthy women seem to have a passionate desire to give back to others. How would you guess Roxanne Quimby chooses to give back?

You’re right, by preserving nature.

Today she is purchasing acres and acres of Maine timberland, seashore and buildings of historical importance. She’s then turning most of it over to the state of Maine for parks and nature reserves. She’s also begun partnering with the Nature Conservancy.

She says her life is simple – beans and rice. But she enjoys the challenge of business and money is just the scorecard. She’s on a mission to use her money to save and preserve the beauty of nature.

There are lessons we can learn from the self-made success of Roxanne Quimby.

Here is a woman who reluctantly began making money. She would have rather lived in the Maine woods with no electricity than go out into the corporate world. She did make money and in fact she became wealthy.

Impressively, she is able to stay true to her core values, beliefs and most importantly, to herself. Roxanne’s Quimby’s wealth has become an extension of her unwavering confidence in what she believes to be important.

**I originally published this article in 2008 on BellaOnline.com when I was the Abundance and Wealth editor.**


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I’m Sharon Michaels.com and my business is dedicated to empowering and mentoring women who have chosen to successfully work for themselves. I teach you how to do business successfully.

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