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Horst M. Rechelbacher (born 1941) is 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 is currently the CEO and founder of Intelligent Nutrients, a certified organic, non-toxic plant-based health and beauty company. Rechelbacher is 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 he has been 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.
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.
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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 convictions. 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 decade and as a lovemark brand[clarification needed], 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.
In the years following the sale of Aveda, Horst became increasingly aware that the beauty industry was stagnating in the face increasing environmental degradation. In addition, new technologies that could better serve the consumer were being underutilized. Rechelbacher's fierce determination to improve the caliber of cosmetic products manifested itself in his latest company Intelligent Nutrients. IN is a certified organic, food-grade, non-toxic plant-based hair, skin, body, aroma and lifestyle company with the primary emphasis on using organically grown ingredients. The IN hair, skin and aromatherapy lines are notable for the USDA Certified Organic seal. Based on nutraceuticals, non-toxics and certified organic food ingredients and flavors, IN also uses post-consumer recycled packaging.
Rechelbacher is currently a strong advocate within the cosmetic industry against “greenwashing” - misleading marketing claims and so-called organic companies who use the claim "organic" without certification - by bringing transparency and truth to beauty and cosmetic labeling.
Recognition and Achievements
Rechelbacher has been recognized throughout his career as a business leader but also has innumerable acknowledgements for excellence in product development. Among his many awards, he is the recipient of an honoris causa doctorate in Ayurveda from Gurukul Mahavidyalaya Twalapur, Haridwar University, in India. Rechelbacher was voted one of the most notable Austrians living in America by the Austrian press, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wolfgang Puck. Vanity Fair magazine voted him as one of the most influential environmentalists in the U.S. in 1995 and again in 2005. He is one of the three original founders of Business for Social Responsibility, which promotes the idea that businesses have the greatest responsibility and opportunity to provide sustainability to all living species. In 2004, he became a founding member of the Organic Center for Education, Research and Promotion, and NAHA - the beauty industry award - honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2007, the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa presented Horst with the Crystal Award, and he received the Rachel Carson Award for a Lifetime Commitment to Environmental Ethics & Integrity. Later that year, the Spa & Salon Professional Association Incorporated honored him as an Industry Innovator & Legend for his lifetime contribution to the cosmetology industry. The Twin Cities Business Magazine inducted Horst into their 2008 Minnesota Business Hall of Fame, acknowledging his contributions and recognizing him as one of the states’ most accomplished business leaders of all time. In October 2009, the President of Austria awarded Horst the "Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria" called the Gold Star for his exemplary representation of an Austrian business leader. 
Horst is founder and chairman of the Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to social and environmental preservation projects that operate on a grass-roots level. He continues to promote sustainable ideals and values through profit and non-profit organizations. He also owns HMR Galleries, an art and antiques business and involved in producing films including the 1999 film Hidden Medicine.
Rechelbacher maintains residences in Osceola, Wisconsin and New York City. As well as a private estate and a company retreat, the Osceola property serves as an organic farm cultivating flowers and plants while also operating a distillery for the IN products. The farm and home are solar powered.
Rechelbacher is divorced with two children, a son Peter and a daughter Nicole. Nicole is a married mother of three and former accessories and clothing designer for Aveda. Peter is married with a son, and provided expertise in finance and was president of Intelligent Nutrients while at Aveda.
Horst lives and works with his long-time companion, former vice president of marketing and creative for Aveda, Kiran Stordalen.
- Rejuvenation: a wellness guide for women and men. Published 1987, Harper & Row. (ISBN 0-7225-1072-1)
- Aveda Rituals: a daily guide to natural health and beauty. Published 1999, Henry Holt. (ISBN 0-8050-5800-1)
- Alivelihood: The Art of Sustainable Success. Published 2006, HMR Publishing. (ISBN 0-9772677-0-9)
- Intelligent Nutrients: Our Founder (Intelligent Nutrients website.)
- A Sneak Preview at Horst's New Book - The Business of Being (Intelligent Nutrients website.)
- "Horst" (Horst Galleries website.)
- "Beauty and the Feast," by Mary Tannen. New York Times Magazine, September 15, 2002, page 109.
- "Super Natural," by Mark Sevjar. American Salon, October 2005, page 110.
- "Labors of Love," by Julie Sinclair. American Spa, April 2005, page 26.
- "Reputations: Dowry of earthly harmony," by Sarah Ryle. The Guardian, November 22, 1997. City Page section, page 24.
- "Aveda shops dabble in earthly delights," by Linda Gillian Griffin. Houston Chronicle, August 29, 1996, Fashion section, page 2.
- The Natural Beauty of Aveda: A Discussion with Chris Hacker Enlightened Brand Journal, Autumn 2004. (Explanation of company name.)
- "Go, earth girl!" Teen Magazine November 1995, page 84. (Story about Nicole Rechelbacher.)