Reflecting With an Industry Master

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.”

Physicians need the esthetician. “You can’t separate the two anymore,” he says. “Just like you can’t separate mind and body. Today’s society is concerned with how we look, and because looking good is feeling better, the future definitely is going to include medical spas.”

Rechelbacher explained to me how he started integrating change with Aveda in the 1980s when he hired dermatologist Peter T. Pugliese, MD, to help launch a dermatological program at his educational institute. Together, they installed microscopes, and developed the curriculum to include skin and body care. Rechelbacher exposed all departments of his institute to this—including those focusing on hair and beauty. “I don’t want to separate hairdressing from massage and esthetics,” he continues. “Everybody should know a little bit about everything. That is what I call holistic integration. It also is very important in the spa industry, because you cannot do one without the other.” One of Rechelbacher’s current projects happens to be integrating beauty and medical spas.

Philosophy on success

I always want to hear successful people’s attitudes on achievement so that I, too, can learn from their views. Rechelbacher’s philosophy is quite straighforward. “My philosophy on success is selfless service, and to be a student of what is going on now in science—particularly nutritional, and also implementation. We are entering a whole new field of technology. We are reinventing our intelligence on a yearly basis. For me, to live in the moment without studying what is going on scientifically is really missing out because, today, how I study will determine the future. And living in yesterday’s success is really aging. It can age the business, and, sooner or later, the business—or the body—just dies. Success is being here now and being attentive. Being conscious. Because there is so much going on. Not being in the know is just energetically wasteful,” he continues.

I asked Rechelbacher if he would share some words of advice with Skin Inc. magazine readers to help each of you strive to reach your ultimate goal. “Go to every industry convention and show—keep up there. There are two things that will change life in the next 10 years: nanotechnology and instrumentation. Pay attention to what others are doing. For me, this is what keeps me young. And being young is being informed,” he concludes.

Melinda Taschetta-Millane


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