On February 15, industry pioneer, hairdresser, salon owner and AVEDA founder Horst Rechelbacher passed away. Rechelbacher's vision shaped the way many in the world viewed the planet, the industry and even themselves. He was 72.
Rechelbacher was born on November 11, 1941 in Klagenfurt, Austria, to an herbalist and a shoemaker. His family's apartment overlooked a small salon, and at the age of 14, Rechelbacher embarked on a salon apprenticeship, and immediately began winning the Austrian Junior Championships. At 17, he moved to Rome, where he worked in an exclusive Italian salon and throughout the early '60s he traveled Europe as part of the European hairstyling competition circuit, capturing many awards. As part of this recognition, Rechelbacher had the opportunity to work the show circuit in the United States. On his second American trip he was teaching seminars in the Midwest when his car was struck by an intoxicated driver and he was hospitalized in Minneapolis. The serious accident left him physically incapacitated for six months and in financial debt. In an effort to pay his hospital bills, he began working in an Minneapolis salon, then opened his own - Horst of Austrian in 1965. As a salon owner, Rechelbacher created a unique model of economic sustainability for salons and spas.
In the 1970s, Rechelbacher traveled to India to study yoga and meditation, immersing himself in rich cultural traditions. One the trip he became inspired by the spiritual and medical teacher Swami Rama, and gained knowledge of the ancestral Ayurvedic therapies, herbal remedies and a more comprehensive approach to health and well-being. Drawing on Ayurvedic principles, Rechelbacher launched AVEDA in 1978 with the ambition of developing beauty products that would care for professionals, their guest and the planet through the power o pure flower and plant essences. AVEDA became a lifestyle and global movement encouraging many to I've more balanced lives by achieving a sense of harmony in the body, mind and spirit. Rechelbacher pioneered environmental responsibility and under his leadership, AVEDA became the first business to endorse the Valdez/Ceres principles in 1989.
Two decades after founding AVEDA, Rechelbacher sold it to Estee Lauder and shifted his focus to Intelligent Nutrients, a health and beauty company the establishes the highest standards of food-based, safe, non-toxic and USDA certified-organic ingredients. Following Rechelbacher's passing, the company's website posted: "To know Horst was to wake up to the world around you, to own potential, to a new way of thinking. His impact truly does live on in saki's, shops, fields and minds worldwide. And his mission continues."
Rechelbacher passed away from pancreatic cancer on his 570-acre farm and retreat in Osceola, Minnesota, where he continued to grow many of his ingredients. He is survived by second wife, Kiran Stordalen; his daughter, Nicole Thomas, and his son, Peter.