Horst Rechelbacher – RIP


bob_topazFebruary 15, 2014.  It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Horst Rechelbacher.  Horst was the founder of Aveda and more importantly, my friend.  To me Horst was an inspiration of what is possible when you are passionate about a cause.  Without question, he made the natural skin care business what it is today.

Every once in a while someone comes along that strikes you.  You look at them and see the history of humanity in their eyes. You here their voice and it stuns you with the conviction of many souls focused on a common cause.  His touch was golden and a shining beacon in a sea of sharks.  For some it was easy to criticize the passion he had for people and purity of products.  He will be missed in the sense of our loss.  He will not be missed because he will continue to be my inspiration and the inspiration of others who care.

I often like to tell the story about sitting with Horst and his senior managers at his Intelligent Nutrients flagship store/offices in Minneapolis.  Wendy and I, when not at the factory, travel and live in a custom motor coach we had built a few years ago.  We want to be close to our customers and our resellers.

We were talking about some of Horst’s new products and a particular multi-function scent he created and about how most of the ingredients were organically grown on his farm in Wisconsin.  The subject of how we live and travel came up which prompted Horst to talk about the early days of Aveda.  To the surprise of us and his team, he told the story of traveling from salon to salon in his camper.  Visiting, telling his story and signing up salons to his new Aveda company one salon at a time.  The story so resonated with our own quest to build our dealer network and it was a significant common bond we shared with him.

Below is my favorite picture of Horst because it shows his joy, compassion and humanity.  His picture is wrapped by his story from his Wikipedia.

Goodbye our friend!

Bob & Wendy


Horst Rechelbacher – Wikipedia

horst_rechelbacherHorst M. Rechelbacher (1941 – February 15, 2014) was the founder of the Aveda Corporation and Intelligent Nutrients. Aveda is a plant-based beauty company that manufactures hair care, skin care, makeup, purefume and lifestyle products. He was the CEO and founder of Intelligent Nutrients, a certified organic, non-toxic plant-based health and beauty company until his death. Rechelbacher was a distinguished environmentalist, author, artist and innovative business leader who changed the face the beauty industry through his steadfast commitment to the development of sustainable, eco-friendly consumer products. Throughout his career was dedicated to the study of pure plant essences and their psychological, physiological and environmental benefits, the importance of using organically grown ingredients and creating businesses with social and ecological practices that help preserve the environment.

Early life

Rechelbacher was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, to a herbalist and shoe maker/designer, the youngest of three brothers. His family apartment overlooked a small salon across the street in central Klagenfurt. During his childhood, Rechelbacher had many opportunities to observe the daily activities of the salon. He was both intrigued and inspired by the salon and when the time came to choose a vocation or continue with a formal education, he chose the salon profession. At age fourteen, he embarked on a three-year apprenticeship in the beauty and salon industry. During his apprenticeship, he was a three-time winner of the Austrian Junior Championships. At seventeen, he moved to Italy and started work at an exclusive salon in Rome.

Competitions and Salons

By the early 1960s, Rechelbacher had begun to travel throughout Europe as part of the European hairstyling circuit and competitions. He received numerous awards including the International Grand Prix of France, Germany, Austria and Brussels as well as the prestigious European Golden Comb Award of the former Yugoslavia With that recognition he was offered an opportunity to work the show circuit in the United States. On his second visit in 1964, Rechelbacher was teaching seminars across the midwest when his car was struck by an intoxicated driver in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The accident left him physically incapacitated for six months and in financial debt. In an effort to pay his medical bills he began working in Minneapolis and went on to open his own salon in 1965, Horst of Austria. Shortly thereafter, he created his first hairspray under the name Horst of Austria and his first shampoo called Horst. Due to his years as an apprentice, Rechelbacher was deeply committed to standards of excellence for salons and stylists alike insisting on exemplary execution from product to service. He opened five more shops over the next 11 years under the name Horst and Friends and a Horst Education Center for cosmetology, esthiology and massage in 1977 – now known as the Aveda Institute.

India and Ayurvedic Influences

In 1970 Horst went to India for the first time. Wanting to study yoga and meditation, he spent two months immersing himself within the rich cultural traditions of India. He met and became inspired by one of the great spiritual and medical teachers in the Himalayan region of India at the time, Swami Rama, which set in motion a lifelong study of eastern philosophical thought. But more importantly, he gained knowledge of the many methods of ancestral ayurvedic therapies, herbal remedies and a more comprehensive approach to health and well-being


These events proved to be the catalyst for the creation of Aveda. Upon his return from India and equipped with the knowledge and power of plant efficacy and an understanding of the essential relationship between the natural world and humans, he was motivated to take his personal point of view and translate it into his product business. Rechelbacher developed Clove Shampoo and later Cherry Almond Bark Conditioner based on his earlier renditions. In 1978, he founded Aveda and began to expand the product line into hair, skin and body care, makeup, plant-based purefumes, (aromatherapy) and lifestyle products that were all centered on his newfound conviction.  Under his guidance he continued a search for flower and plant ingredients around the globe and focused on working with indigenous peoples in mutually beneficial circumstances.

Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Rechelbacher was the first to sign onto the Valdez Principles, now the Ceres principles, joining corporate environmental responsibility with corporate bottom line. In 1992, along with his partner Kiran, he attended the Earth Summit, where three key agreements occurred: the Climate Change Convention, a pre-cursor to the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity and an Intellectual Property Rights accord for indigenous peoples that included preventing actions that could be deemed culturally inappropriate and/or cause environmental destruction. Through this convention, Rechelbacher forged a relationship with the Brazilian Yawanawa tribe began a project cultivating uruku and replanting seedlings in deforested areas.

Emerging as one of the coolest cult brands of the decadeand as a lovemark brand[Aveda became a global brand itself known for merging two previously divergent concepts – great products and green design for the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.

Nearly two decades after Rechelbacher incorporated, he sold Aveda to Estee Lauder but remained a consultant until March 2003


Bob "Beaker"

Keys Founder & Chief Technologist. Author: Chemical-Free Skin Health® , Defining Moments

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