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Horst M. Rechelbacher (1941 – February 15, 2014) was the founder of the Aveda Corporation and Intelligent Nutrients. His interest in developing products without toxic chemicals launched the market for natural cosmetics in the United States.
Rechelbacher was born in Klagenfurt, Austria to an herbalist and shoe maker/designer and was 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.
India and Ayurvedic Influences
In 1970, Rechelbacher went to Florida to participate in a number of different competitions. During those he became sick due to the products he was using on clients' hair and came up with the idea to start "Aveda" - an all natural hair products line.
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 precursor 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.
Nearly two decades after Rechelbacher incorporated, he sold Aveda to the Estee Lauder Companies 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.
Later, Rechelbacher was 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.
Rechelbacher was the 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. His sustainable ideals and values are perpetuated through profit and non-profit organizations. He also owned HMR Galleries, an art and antiques business, and was involved in producing films including the 1999 film Hidden Medicine.
Rechelbacher maintained residences in Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City. As well as a private estate and a company retreat, the Osceola, Wisconsin, 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 was 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.
- 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)
- Minding Your Business: Profits that Restore The Planet. Published 2008, Earth Aware Editions. (ISBN 1601090129)
- 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.)
- Vitello, Paul (February 22, 2014). "Horst Rechelbacher, 'Father of Safe Cosmetics,' Dies at 72". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- Schneider, Karen S. (July 2014). "Style Profile: Kiran Stordalen". Minnesota Monthly. Greenspring Media. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- Julie Naughton and Pete Born with contributions from Belisa Silva (16 February 2014). "Horst Rechelbacher Dies at 72". WWD. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
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