Burt's Bees has as humble a beginning as you might expect. Beekeeper Burt Shavitz picked up a hitchhiker named Roxanne Quimby, they read a book about old-timey beeswax remedies, and they started selling skincare products guaranteed to leave your skin as silky smooth as a bee's. Their story is laid out on the company site, along with their commitment to taking care of their fellow man, making the world a better place, and never selling out so that people use their company in comedic listicles. Over all of it is old Burt's face, looking peaceful but like he knows some hidden, deep truth.
"The bees ... they can impregnate your mind."
By all accounts, Burt was never in it for the money and wanted nothing more than a little house, some land, and peace and quiet. That's good, because when he was forced out of his company, which was later sold to Clorox, he got less than half a percent of the sale. In retrospect, that gives a different read to his face on the label:
"I've made a huge mistake."
As much as Clorox would like to imply otherwise, after 1994, Burt had as much say in the company as the bees. He didn't use the products or have a high opinion of Clorox. His company and his face are just a mask that Clorox is allowed to do anything they want with.
I'm not saying that just because a larger company buys a smaller one, they're necessarily going to ruin it. Cracked got bought by Scripps, and it hasn't changed in any way because of their incredible news coverage or the way their thriving broadcast business work side by side with emerging digital brands. My point is just that the fake homemade aesthetic is a particularly odious type of bullshit. I don't want to be lied to about whether or not hippies made the product I'm buying. I want to be lied to about how handsome I look while buying it.
Aaron Kheifets is an occasionally mustachioed comedian, writer, and director. You are allowed to follow him on Twitter and look at his website.
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