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Reflecting With an Industry Master

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

There is never a day that passes when I don’t learn something new from someone involved in this industry. Recently, I had the honor of sitting down with Horst Rechelbacher, self-proclaimed “eco-preneur,” and founder of both Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients. The story he told was fascinating, as is his philosophy on life.

I asked him to explain his path to success, which began with his apprenticeship in Austria at age 14. His journey took him through Italy, England, France, Germany and finally to America in 1964. While in Minneapolis, conducting an educational event, he was involved in a serious car accident that kept him there. The rest is Aveda history. Rechelbacher explains that the company is what it is today “because of the love of doing it. And always reinventing, and being a student to constantly reinvent yourself and learn more about the art of science,” he elaborates.

With today’s current holistic boom, I asked him if he believed that he was ahead of his time with his concepts and philosophies. “I was with the time,” he replies. “I was lucky to have the right teacher at the right moment. This is old stuff. Now it’s just being reinterpreted, almost rediscovered. Plant and flower essences are the chemistry of cosmetics today.”


Sustainability is a buzzword in today’s spa industry. So I asked how spas can better grasp this concept, or movement. “It’s simply living it. It’s not just doing it for the environment; it’s doing it for yourself. And when you do it for yourself, I call that lifestyle,” states Rechelbacher. “Buy only organic food—be conscious about every little thing. It’s doing whatever you can, and doing business the same way. So don’t separate yourself from your lifestyle. Bring it into your business, and when you do that, you will get it, you will feel it, your heart will open up and consciousness will just grow. And success is a byproduct of that. Go the extra mile for the other side of you who is in need of nurturing, which is really the client. Why are people going to a spa? Why are people going to hair salons? Be conscious. Go the extra mile.”

Move toward medical

Curious, I asked Rechelbacher where he felt the industry was headed. “It’s going to be medical,” he states with certainty. “Guaranteed. It’s going to be there, because two things are clear: Food is becoming medicine, and beauty and medicine will merge—they don’t separate. So nurturing is physiological and psychological. As we age as a society and live longer as a society, only medical people can restore and repair certain damages. We don’t have licenses to heal; we have licenses to nurture. And doctors don’t have the time to do that.”