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September 14, 2017 5 minute READ

Burt's Bees - Life Lessons from the Bee Man

tags Adventure | Inspiration | Mast Family Favorites
locations All

In the summer of 1984, Maine artist Roxanne Quimby, was trying to thumb a ride home. Eventually, a bright yellow Datsun pickup truck pulled over, and Roxanne instantly recognized Burt Shavitz, a local fellow whose beard was almost as well-known as his roadside honey stand. Burt and Roxanne hit it off. Before long, Roxanne was making candles in his 8-x-8 turkey coop with unused wax from Burt's beehives. They made $200 at their first craft fair; within a year, they'd make $20,000. It was a pretty fantastic beginning, but it was just the beginning all the same.

burts-bees-a.jpgTheir little beeswax-based business quickly expanded. The couple moved to Durham, NC, in 1994 and grew the company by producing personal care, health, beauty, and hygiene products. As an innovator in the personal care market, Burt’s Bees has worked hard to help set standards for body care products from the very beginning. When Burt's Bees says "natural," they mean it. Their products average 99% natural and half of them are 100% natural. As they continue to strive for a 100% natural guarantee on all products, the company investigates all ingredients and uses the latest technologies to create the best products for the consumer’s greatest well-being. They never use any ingredient that has any potential suspected human health risks.

burts-bees-g.jpgBurt’s Bee’s key ingredients are from the fruits of the earth: honey, coconut and mango seed oils, evening primrose, royal jelly, cotton extract, peppermint oil, shea butter, and sunflower oil, to name a few. Because your skin is also your body's largest organ, it’s important to slather it with natural, safe, and healthy products. If you wouldn’t put a product in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Burt’s Bees all-natural guarantee is safe for the entire family. For these reasons, Mast General Store has proudly carried an extensive line of Burt’s Bees products since the early 1990s.

"Land is everything." - Burt Shavitz
Burt Shavitz died on July 5, 2015, at age 80. Since that time, the Burt’s Bees company deconstructed and shipped the founder’s cabin from its original site in Guilford, Maine to their American Tobacco Campus in Durham. It was restored to its original condition with his actual belongings, and the cabin doesn’t have running water or electricity - the same way Shavitz had it when he lived there.

burts-bees-c.jpgThe cabin has been at the Durham headquarters since January. For this week only, the company is offering free public tours of its interior on Thursday and Friday, June 22nd and 23rd, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. both days. This special event is held in conjunction with National Pollinator Week, which brings awareness to declining pollinator populations. Master beekeepers will also speak about the on-site observatory beehive. The observation hive was also created in Burt Shavitz’s memory, with his motto, "Good of the Hive," adorning the building.

burts-bees-d.jpgStepping into Burt’s Bees founder’s 300-square-foot cabin is like going back in time to the year 1856 — the year marked on a sign above his old gas stove. You'll see a window into Burt's daily life and the joy he gained from nature. A wood-burning stove provided warmth in the winter and heat for bathwater and a bowl of oatmeal. A radio and wooden thermometer served as the most modern technologies.  Various collections and artifacts inside illustrate what Burt valued: small papers scribbled with Thoreau's wisdom and assorted motorcycle trappings. You’ll also see pictures of his beloved dogs, too. Shavitz was very fond of his two golden retrievers, Rufus and Sasha. He loved them so much that he listed their names, rather than his own, in the phone book. Burt's home embodied what made him different - a thoughtful man who sought out a simple life in pace with the seasons.

burts-bees-e.jpgOutside the cabin itself, there's a viewfinder with a 360-degree experience inside so that visitors may have the opportunity to experience Burt's nature. View the original Maine wilderness where his cabin once stood and where he lived in pace with its seasons, waking with the sun and going to sleep when it became too dark to read. For those who can't see the cabin in person, Burt’s Bees created a 360-degree experience on their website as well. There are several interactive videos with sound effects and short video clips in which Shavitz offers more insight into his home as you tour virtually. Enjoy looking around by clicking HERE.

"What was most important to him was living in nature, and I think that's really what we as a company stand for today ... knowing that our connection to nature is important," said Paula Alexander, director of sustainable business for the brand.

For those at Burt's Bees, the cabin is a fond reminder - particularly in these high-tech, hurried times - of the lesson "the Bee Man" taught through example: never lose sight of your relationship with nature.

Pick up your own Made in the USA Burt’s Bees products, fresh from the hive, by clicking HERE.




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