The Fascinating Backstory of Burt's Bees

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 corporate America 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 neighbor 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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