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The Body Shop

22 Kensington Gardens

Opened in 1976

The very first The Body Shop store was opened by Anita Roddick on the 27th March 1976 at 22 Kensington Gardens. The Body Shop group now has over 2,500 stores worldwide. At the beginning it only sold a range of 25 different products with an emphasis on natural ingredients that were ethically sourced and cruelty free.

Recycling plastic bottles

Customers were encouraged to take the plastic bottles which contained their potions back to be re-filled. Roddick promoted this practice as recycling; in truth she started it because she did not have enough plastic bottles. The first labels were printed with the wrong ink which allowed the details to run off in the steam in a bathroom. Often customers brought the bottles back to find out what was in them.

Did you shop there?

Do you remember The Body Shop store in Kensington Gardens? If you do please share your memories with us by posting a comment below.

22 Kensington Gardens

Comments about this page

  • Yes, yes, yes, Jennifer. I remember very well. It was my favourite lunch-time expedition. I would dash from my work at Miss Selfridge in Churchill Square down to Kensington Gardens especially to visit The Body Shop. What a treat it was too. The simplicity of the shop itself but the extravagant smells of pure oils, with nothing added or taken away. Hmmmm, heavenly. Rows of little plastic bottles waiting to be filled at your request. Simple wooden shelving and nothing to distract from what the shop was all about. My favourite essential oil was Patchouli and has been ever since. I never wear anything else. I did buy, and experiment, with others in the shop and also bought combinations like Patchouli and Bergamot; another favourite. To tell the truth, up till two years ago, I still had at least one of the original little plastic bottles with the original oil in. Still in perfect condition and smelling fresh as new. When turning things out to move to Holland I offered a box of such oils to a friend, proposing she use them up in her room oil burner. A couple of doors down from the Body Shop was another favourite haunt. A hobby craft shop. I usually had something in the make at home and would always find things of interest at the hobby shop. That just about left time to hurtle back up North Street, down a cheese roll and coffee, and back on the shop floor to relieve the next staff in line for their break. What energy we had then. All done on fashionable high wooden wedge heels of the time. Mine were a delicious green. Nothing really new in fashion we have done it all before!! Thanks, Jennifer – and thanks to Anita too. Best wishes, Sandra Bohtlingk. (nee Baldwin).

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (19/04/2012)
  • Me again Jennifer, I see there is also reference to The Body Shop in the George Street, Hove page. It was there I took the plunge to have my ears pierced. That would have been somewhere around 1978 I think. I had never fancied pierced ears before but there was an amazing silver and gold smith jeweller in Steyning, Gordon Lawrie, whose work was a great inspiration to me. Having fallen in love with a pretty pair of drop earrings he had in his studio, I just had to go get my ears done. Living my married years in Portslade, our shopping trips also began to include George Street, Hove. I liked the Body Shop in George Street so it was an obvious choice for me. Sandra.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (20/04/2012)
  • I had my first cleanser/toner & moisturiser from The Body Shop for my Birthday -12! So 1978. I had my ear pierced there also and always recycled my plastic bottles for many years until I started working for Elizabeth Arden in Hannington’s after completing my Beauty Therapy 2 year course at Brighton Tech. So The Body Shop started my future. Thanks Anita!

    By Claire Townsend (nee Pearce) (22/04/2012)
  • My cousin and I had our ears pierced at the Kensington Gardens Body Shop! We saved our pocket money up for weeks and it was so exciting, it was around the punk era and we were so excited we were having something pierced (we were only about 11!) We always mooched about Kensington Gardens on a Saturday as my Nan lived in nearby Tidy Street. The Body Shop also sold jewellery and trinkets in the early days. Little baskets of jewellery and earrings on the counter (which were suprisingly cheaper than the cosmetics and lotions!). I loved their White Musk perfume which remained my signature scent for many years after! Always amazed at how all the bottles were lined up into pyramids, nothing out of place! There was also a cheese shop a couple of doors away in Kensington Gardens so a trip down Kensington Gardens was a delicious experience with the lovely smelling Body Shop wares and then pungent exotic cheeses! In later years a vintage shop called Rokit appeared in Kensington Gardens, we thought we were cooler than cool in vintage Levis 501s! I had a Body Shop makeover done the day I had an interview for my first job (Brighton railway station) and got the job! When I got married the local Body Shop party organiser did my wedding makeup! My brother, to this day, still uses camomile shampoo and the Body Shop taught us not only about how to save the environment, be aware of Greenpeace and cruelty to animals, it also made us aware of natural beauty and that not everything had to be highly scented and coloured. RIP Anita, you made an impact on so many, good on you! PS: Sandra I also worked in Miss Selfridge, although not until about 89/90.

    By Helen Wrapson (26/04/2012)
  • Hallo Helen, I just saw your note to me about working at Miss Selfridge. I started there as the shop was newly opening which must have been around ’69-’70. There was a staff of about 30 and the shop had a great energy to it. Downstairs was the Bistro and on the top floor behind the clothing department was a hairdressing salon. Offices, staff room and stock room were in the basement and a lift to all floors from there. The record player in those days was pumping out the Beatles, Jonny Mathis, Elton John to name but a few. Later on there were changes as some of the staff had to be reduced and a shoe department added at the rear of the ground floor. I was there for 5 years before my son was born. Then I came to Brighton on a visit many years later, ’90’s maybe, and was saddened to see only a small aspect of the shop still functioning. Only a ground floor if I recall. Sad to see it that way as the shop had such a great vibe in the early 70’s. Best wishes, Sandra.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (28/04/2012)
  • I was one of Anita’s first customers and I loved the recyling of the bottles. I used to do embroidery for a little boutique further along the Street – bohemian-style cross-stitch was all the rage!

    By Helen Holmes (29/12/2012)
  • I loved the Body Shop and still use it now. My favourite oils were Vetivert, which they sadly stopped producing (have a titchy bit left which I sniff now and then to bring back the memories). I also loved Rose. I also too remember the Cheese Shop and buying a cheese roll with what must have been about a 1/2lb of cheddar in. I used to work in a cafe in George Street and Anita was friendly with the owner so she used to pop in from time to time.

    By Geraldine McCormick (nee Batchelor) (17/01/2013)
  • A friend of mine knew her, she came and did a house party for us, we ordered stuff from her and it was delivered later.

    By Ellie Roe (02/04/2018)
  • I remember the shop well. We were on a school trip to Brighton for the day and I was enchanted by the baskets of lemon and strawberry shaped soaps. Never seen anything like it in my life before. Decades later I still shop at Body Shop, yet sadly the lemon soaps are no more. Big respect for Anita, always my hero, I have all her books. Living on.

    By Judith Briant (02/09/2019)
  • I do! With really fond memories! I had my ear pierced here back in 1977/8 I think. We lived in Chichester but a real treat was a trip to Brighton and especially The Body Shop. I’m now nearly 67 years old and my grandson is about to start Uni in Brighton. Such happy memories, such exciting times.

    By Gill Kent (10/09/2020)
  • Yes I remember it so well. My friend Chris who was from the peak district worked there for a while, her boyfriend Mic from Manchester was a friend and stayed with us when he visited her.

    By Jill Davies (09/02/2024)
  • Fascinating to find this site. Prompted to look for the shop after latest news of take over by a private equity company. Anita would turn in her grave. We used to visit my inlaws in Brighton and frequented the shop when down, when it first opened. Used to love that area of shops so innovative.

    By Chris Proffitt (11/02/2024)

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