Burt’s Bees Founder, Burt Shavitz Dies

Burt’s Bees namesake and co-founder, Burt Shavitz passed away among family and friends in his home town in Maine yesterday at 80 years of age.

Those who know the Burt’s Bees brand would be familiar with the natural values espoused on its iconic vivid yellow honeycomb product packaging.

But few would know the man behind the products, co-founder and namesake Burt Shavitz, was a wild-bearded beekeeper and wise-cracker, with a love of golden retrievers and of being in nature, and the face that smiled back at customers on the packaging of the brand’s cult Hand Salve.

The man behind the Burt's Bees brand legend.
The man behind the Burt’s Bees brand legend.

The face behind the brand, Shavitz passed away on Sunday at the age of 80 from respiratory complications, surrounded by family and friends in his home in Maine.

Beginning his career as a photojournalist, Shavitz captured the essence of New York City in the 1960s – key figures in the civil rights movement, beat poets, artists, and images central to the burgeoning environmental movement.

With humble beginnings, the now multi-national brand was the brainchild of Shavitz’s friend, single mother, Roxanne Quimby, who, foraging for materials for her candle-making project one day in 1984, approached the beekeeper for some leftover beeswax to put together her creations, sparking off what would become a three-decade long partnership and a household name brand.

By 1999, the small town brand had grown into a global empire expanding beyond natural beeswax candles into the beauty and personal care sector, launching specialty cuticle and lip salves that remain in its line-up today. Shavitz left the company in 2007, when it was purchased by Clorox for $US925 million, but continued to be an influencing factor on both its ethos and product line.

The brand’s namesake will remain the inspiration for the Burt’s Bees line of natural skincare products and the cheerful personality behind the bright yellow packaging encapsulating his ever-optimistic spirit and passion for nature.

Arrangements for Shavitz’s funeral are currently underway and family and friends have asked the brand’s customers to contribute their messages of support and suggestions to commemorate his life to the brand directly.


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