Hairdresser Health Advocate Horst Rechelbacher (1941-2014)
Over this past weekend, we in the salon industry lost perhaps our most passionate activist for health, Horst Rechelbacher. The founder of the pioneering Aveda Corporation as well as his recent corporate venture, Intelligent Nutrients, Rechelbacher rose from struggling immigrant hairdresser to global beauty industry icon on the wings of his belief in an organically inspired lifestyle. From a commitment to meditation and yoga to establishing his own organic farm in Wisconsin, Horst lived his principles. As Vanity Fair once dubbed the man known throughout the world by his first name, Horst was “The Ecopreneur.”
The “eco” part came first. Even before he founded Aveda, Horst was offering clients plant-based beauty products formulated with ingredients that today we take for granted, such as lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary. Through his talent and conviction, he developed a following, then a business and then a legacy.
“I see beauty as health, and health is beauty,” Horst told MindBodyGreen in a 2010 interview. He championed foods rich in omegas and urged hairdressers and clients alike to manage stress, which he considered toxic. With the sale of Aveda and the launch of Intelligent Nutrients, Horst continued to work to promote natural, organic ingredients until his death at 72. In recent years he came to put a lot of faith in stem cells, which he predicted would radically change the way we live and how we treat disease.
Celebrated freelance editorial and platform artist Faatemah Ampey counts herself among the legions of stylists whom Horst directly influenced to live a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. Today, 20 years after she initially studied with Horst, she still takes ten minutes upon waking up to sit quietly, stretch and do some deep breathing. She credits Horst with modeling that peaceful start to each day.
As one of Aveda’s global trainers, Ampey was required to experience the full spectrum of the brand’s products and treatments. When she took the three-month esthetics program, she was not interested in esthetics. But today she’s grateful for that education.
“Horst brought in dancers to teach us how we should move with our body,” Ampey recalls. “We learned that we could avoid becoming exhausted from delivering services. When you give a facial, for example, you give energy to the client while also taking energy from the client. Horst taught us to have purpose whenever we would touch someone. That lesson was unique, and it was who Horst was.”