Burt Shavitz, a founder of Burt’s Bees personal care products (Clorox purchased it in 2007 for $900 million), lives in seclusion in Maine. There’s a new documentary about him, Burt’s Buzz. Here’s the trailer and a clip:
There’s quite a bit about his lifestyle that appeals to me. I especially identify with, “A good day is when no one shows up and you don’t have to go anywhere.” But I would very much appreciate electricity, hot running water, and central heating, especially if I lived in Maine.
Burt Shavitz, The World’s Most Famous Retired Beekeeper, New York Times, 16 July 2014
Q&A: Meet The Face Of Burt’s Bees And director Jody Shapiro, USAToday, 3 June 2014
Your life in Maine sounds very different from your time as a photojournalist in New York City.
Precisely. Being able to walk outdoors anytime I want to and go anywhere I want to, and only God knows what I’m going to meet in the woods and brambles. We had seven or eight fox puppies come out of the woods. They were only 20 feet away. I laid down on the ground and I called them like I would a puppy dog. And they came closer and closer. It was quite a rush.
You also turned 79 recently. What would you say is the happiest moment in your life so far?
Burt: There are so many opportunities to see the sun go down in the evening and the sun come up in the morning. The colors change on the trees, on the snow.
Do you still keep bees?
No, I don’t. I’d still be keeping bees if I didn’t have a bad back. You can only punish your body so long before you’re stuck with a horrendous inability to do things you’d previously been able to do.
I haven’t seen the film. I’d like to. Maybe I can find it online. There’s a real challenge in telling this kind of story. You have to be careful not to present the person as a caricature, or anything that could invite mockery. I think.