With a strong passion for nature, Roxanne Quimby brought up her twin children in a cabin without electricity, running water or other modern conveniences, choosing to live in harmony with her rural Maine surroundings.
In 1984, she met beekeeper Burt Shavitz and discovered ways to use the beeswax left over from his honey operations to make candles, shoe and furniture polish, and eventually personal-care items like lip balm, soap and shampoo. That same year, she formed the company Burt’s Bees, which was sold in 2007 for nearly $1 billion.
With her portion of the proceeds, Roxanne is funding grants to support the environment and the arts. She is also working to establish a national park that will include 120,000 acres of wilderness she owns in Maine. “The time that I spent living without electricity in the woods of Maine was really formative for me. It was so clear that I was not in charge, not for one minute … the humility factor, Mother Earth. … I think we need to have more opportunities to have humans interacting in nature and feeling safe doing it. And I think national parks make it safe,” she said.