Burt Shavitz, the 79-year-old co-founder of the massive Burt's Bees natural personal care product line, says the road to unintentionally building a billion-dollar business started one day with a bee swarm on a fence post.
“The year before, a guy that I’d been buying honey from, who was a beekeeper, had given me everything I needed to be a beekeeper except the bees — a hive, a mask, gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, everything,” Shavitz told The Daily Beast last year. “So, there was this fence post, and I said, ‘My lord, this is an act of God! I can’t turn this down.’”
By sheer fate, a few years later Shavitz was driving around in the van he used to sell his honey when he came upon hitchhiker Roxanne Quimby. Enamored by his small honey production (and Burt himself), the two hit it off and formed both a personal relationship and a business that would later become an international household name.
Unfortunately for Shavitz, he was later bought out by Quimby for an undisclosed sum after allegations that he'd had an affair with an employee. He now resides on the 37 acres where the whole thing started — and in the new documentary "Burt's Buzz," he says that all he really needs.
"In the long run, I got the land, and land is everything. Land is positively everything. And money is nothing really worth squabbling about. This is what puts people six feet under. You know, I don't need it," he says in the trailer.
Despite being a millionaire and a brand icon, Shavitz remains a hippie at heart, living in a simple home with no TV, a wood stove to heat water, and embracing a vegetarian lifestyle.
"I had no desire to be an upward-mobile-rising yuppie with a trophy wife, a trophy house, a trophy car. I wasn't looking for any of those things. I already had what I wanted," he says in the documentary. "No one has ever accused me of being ambitious."
View the trailer for "Burt's Buzz," now in limited release below.
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