A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Burt’s Bees headquarters in North Carolina. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d been a longtime fan of the brand (a love affair that started with its tinted lip balm), so I was definitely excited. Beyond that, I had no expectations. Yet I couldn’t have imagined just how all-encompassing the short trip would be.
There’s so much I can talk about, so I’m going to split this into a three-part series. Since everyone pretty much associates the brand with its beauty products, I wanted to start off this series by going beyond the beeswax. This company does more than create sustainable products, it has pooled much of its efforts to help third world communities and, of course, save the bees.
Above is an amazing video detailing how committed it is to conscientious partnerships. It summarizes how Burt’s Bees looks past numbers to focus on its direct impact on the world better than any sentences I could put together. This thoughtfulness and care trickles into every facet of the internationally recognized company.
Another example of how determined the brand is to change the way businesses can operate is its reclaiming of the American Tobacco campus. Although it only occupies a portion of it, Burt’s Bees has partnered with surrounding businesses to place regulated hive conservations on roofs in order to stall rapid bee population decline. Yet the true gem of this particular endeavor is the observation hive, an installation dreamed up by Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, founder of Bee Downtown, and built by Bill Thering, a Pikeville beekeeper.
Enclosed in glass, it houses an 15,000 Burt’s Bees “employees” as the company endearingly refer to the bees as. Through this particular hive and Bee Downtown, with the support of Burt’s Bees, Bonner’s mission is to spread the word about “colony collapse disorder” and encourage interest in urban beekeeping. This is a cause close to the heart of the brand’s founder, Burt Shavitz.
In fact, a beautiful reminder of his down-to-earth sensibilities and values has recently been reconstructed on the campus. The company disassembled Burt’s modest cabin in Maine, shipped it across states and reassembled it in front of its headquarters. Reconstructed exactly as it last stood, it symbolizes everything Burt’s Bees works towards. I’m honored that I was able to see how he lived, which encouraged me to reflect on my own impact on my surroundings and the world at large.
That’s just a glimpse into the good Burt’s Bees is trying to do. Next up (as teased by my cover photo), I’ll be talking more about what they have cooking in their labs. Stay tuned!