Horst Rechelbacher’s Devotion to Natural Beauty Changed An Industry

“Love lights up the cells.”

Horst Rechelbacher

To me, there is nothing ‘cooler’ than appreciating natural beauty, experiencing the beauty of nature, and understanding you can be a responsible citizen of the world: integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into beauty is the way of a sustainable future — beauty is nature, nature is beauty… For Horst Rechelbacher, the late founder of Aveda, he understood this integration and created wonderful products that truly improve the health and wellbeing of people. Creating products that do this begins with understanding how our spirit, our understanding of how love drives us, can be molded into our reality: when we practice meditation and yoga, when we find our chakras more centered, we live more joy filled and happy lives as a result. This allows us to create wonderful things that brings more beauty into the world, because beauty truly does come from within. Horst knew this himself.

Growing up, I have had a special connection to this man who I never met and who passed away in 2014. My mother is from the same hometown as Horst: Klagenfurt, Austria. There is a special connection that I feel to him because I understand where he comes from. The only hair products I knew as a child were from Aveda. My mother loved to use the Aveda Brilliant humectant hair product, and to this day, the smell of that hair product immediately reminds me of my childhood and smelling my mother’s hair. Since I was passionate about learning about the benefits of natural beauty that Aveda espouses, I did a school project about Aveda and learned all about Horst Rechelbacher when I was a young girl. I studied how his understanding of plants, aromatherapy, holistic and natural medicine about apothecaries because his mother owned an apothecary in Klagenfurt all shaped what would become a giant brand, Aveda. Aveda is now owned by The Estee Lauder Companies as of 1997. Horst sold it for $300 million.

I attribute much of Horst’s successes to three things: 1) He was a product of the wonderful vocational training programs that Austria has to offer, which Horst began to attend at the age of 14. 2) He is a product of all of his learnings about plants from his mother who owned an apothecary in Klagenfurt which focuses on holistic and all natural health treatments. 3) He kept his spirit open to change: when the fast paced life of being a celebrity hair stylist began to wear on him in his twenties, he decided to reinvision the life he wanted to lead… which led him to study Ayurveda in India. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” This combination of factors with Horst’s energy and talents ultimately shaped Horst into creating such a brilliant brand as Aveda.

Horst Rechelbacher changed the face of beauty as we know it because he brought the concept of nature and beauty to market and pioneered the entire natural beauty industry. He also is a pioneer for the intersection of CSR and capital markets because beauty and nature intersect so beautifully. His niche in natural beauty unlocked a truth: responsible corporate activity helps preserve the integrity of Earth, nature and humans. We have so much to thank Horst for and there is still so much work ahead in many industries, which he paved the way for, and we must thank him for.

Horst as a young hairdresser.

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