Horst Rechelbacher’s career in the professional beauty industry has spanned decades and included many roles: stylist, salon owner, platform artist, product manufacturer and ingredient innovator. Add to that: researcher, organic farmer, environmentalist and activist for a safer and healthier world and you have someone who has looked at beauty from all angles. Rechelbacher spoke with MODERN SALON recently about his current passions and his Intelligent Nutrients brand, the culmination of his beliefs that anything that goes on the body should be safe enough to go in the body.
MODERN SALON: TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND THE LANDMARKS IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL BEAUTY CAREER.
HORST RECHELBACHER: At age 14 in my native Austria, I entered a three-year apprenticeship in cosmetology. When I completed my apprenticeship, I worked in Italy, Germany and England and got on the international hair styling competition circuit, where I was very successful. I won the international Grand Prix in France and other competitions across Europe. At that time, that was the ticket to becoming a platform artist because manufacturers were hiring people who were winning competitions. In 1963, I was invited to be a guest artist at the International Beauty Show in New York. That was my introduction to the U.S. I worked for several manufacturers, dividing my time between New York and Minneapolis where I was establishing salons and where I manufactured my first product line, Horst. In 1970, I traveled to India and became interested in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. When I returned, I changed the name of my product line from Horst to Aveda.
MS: AFTER THE INCREDIBLE SUCCESS OF AVEDA, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START ANOTHER BUSINESS?
HR: I always thought that cosmetic products eventually had to become edible and should be regulated by the FDA. I developed several serious illnesses which I attributed to the chemicals in products I had used earlier in my career. I really started thinking about how I had to survive and nurture myself through this period and nutrition was my focus. I had a sister company to Aveda, Intelligent Nutrients, which was focused on nutritional supplements.
When my no-compete agreement expired after selling Aveda, I decided to reinvent myself with the Intelligent Nutrients brand of safe, certified organic products—a healthier alternative. Intelligent Nutrients was primarily developed by food chemists and then I brought in cosmetic chemists to make the products functional for hair and skin. Consumers deserve the best products and so do professionals—we are all consumers. We are living in a century of information where people are smart enough and informed enough to become actively involved and interested in what ingredients are in products. There is a new economy to be created from cosmetic products that are based on safe, healthy, food-grade ingredients. This is a new era of consumer consciousness and consumers are only going to become smarter.
MS: HOW ARE YOU MAKING INTELLIGENT NUTRIENTS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET?
HR: We are working with seed technology. I have become a student of biological innovations because I have been an organic farmer for about 10 years. Intellimune Oil, a core product in the Intelligent Nutrient line, is made from seeds. When we started looking at nutritional potency, we found that seeds are much more potent than the plant itself. We are also involved in stem cell technology. Stem cells: plant, animal and human are evolving 21st Century medicine. Small particle technology is target-specific and that has great implications for medicine and the cosmetic industry.
MS: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SALON PROFESSIONALS IN THIS NEW ERA?
HR:I tell hairdressers to become knowledgeable about nature and nutrition. As beauty professionals and as consumers we must be conscious of the biological world we live in and bring that knowledge to our clients. Be active and be a leader in your community. Be active in making our products and services safe and healthy. Activism is not about giving a bad name to what currently exists. An activist is someone who improves the system and changes the system from the bottom up.