The Fascinating Backstory of Burt's Bees

Lindsey Metrus

A few years ago, Noelle Hancock wrote a story for Cosmopolitan titled, "Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream." The post went viral, and thereafter, other former members of the corporate world surfaced to share similar stories. Each had a common undertone: Their jobs were unfulfilling and soul-sucking, so they shipped off to paradise where their salary was axed but their happiness multiplied. Burt Shavitz also wanted to ditch his shiny career for a simpler lifestyle. But instead of taking a pay cut, he became a multimillionaire.

A little backstory here: Shavitz is the founder of Burt's Bees, hence the fortune. But he isn't your typical glamorous beauty brand owner like Charlotte Tilbury or François Nars: Once a Manhattanite, Shavitz was a photojournalist who shot the likes of JFK and Malcolm X, but he moved upstate after snapping an image of an elderly neighbour looking out her apartment window: "I knew that that would be me, 90 years old and unable to go outside, if I didn't get the hell out." And that he did—out of the concrete jungle and into the fresh air and sweeping landscapes.

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