HONG KONG — Burt Shavitz, co-founder and namesake of natural personal care company Burt’s Bees, has passed away at 80. Shavitz died of respiratory complications in Maine, and was surrounded by family and friends, a spokesperson told the Associated Press.
“We remember him as a wild-bearded and free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers…” the company said in a statement. “Above all, Burt was always Burt — an uncompromising individual of his own invention.”
Burt’s Bees started by chance — Shavitz, a bearded beekeeper who sold honey from a roadside stand, pulled over one day in 1984 to pick up hitchhiker Roxanne Quimby. The two hit it off, and Quimby started making candles from Shavitz’s beeswax.
The pair made $200 at their first craft fair selling the candles, and within a year, pulled in $20,000, according to a company timeline. Soon, they started making all kinds of other products — featuring Shavitz’s face and beard on the labels — including Burt’s Bees’ iconic beeswax lip balm.
Burt’s Bees was sold for $1 billion to Clorox in 2007. The company remains one of the most recognizable natural care brands in the U.S.