Horst, who passed away at the age of 72 in 2014, created Aveda Corp. from modest means into a worldwide business. This is his story:
Born in Austria during World War ll, the post war years in Europe were very hard and Horst dropped out of the 4th grade to help his family during those difficult times.
Later, at age 14, Horst became an apprentice barber and by the age of 17, had become a hair stylist in Rome and subsequently in London and then New York.
To build his reputation and his clientele, Horst participated in beauty show competitions and held seminars, when in 1965, while in Minneapolis he was in a horrific automobile accident.
Horst was fortunate to survive and it took six months for him to recover, leaving him deeply in debt. But during those six months, he fell in love with the American Midwest and never left.
Horst Rechelbacher, Photo: Compass Natural LLC
To pay his bills, he opened a salon, Horst & Friends in Minneapolis, with just himself and two other people. Over time, this salon grew into a small chain of salons.
Horst also began creating shampoos and other natural beauty care products which he formulated in his kitchen sink.
Ultimately, those products led to his big break, when at nearly 37 years of age he founded Aveda Corp. in 1978.
Horst opened Aveda Concept Salons and he created a broad line of natural beauty products, and nontoxic household cleaners.
He also offered coffee beans, herbal teas, nutritional supplements, books and jewelry, with many of his products eventually available in 25,000 stores and salons across the globe.
In 1997, Horst sold Aveda to beauty conglomerate Estee Lauder for a reported $300 million.
After selling Aveda, Horst built Intelligent Nutrients, which specializes in natural, organic earth friendly beauty and health products, many of which he grew on his 570 acre organic farm and retreat center in Osceola, Wisconsin.
How passionate was Horst about natural, organic earth friendly products? His classic words were, "Don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth."
At trade shows and in interviews, Horst would demonstrate this principle by drinking hair spray and other of his company's products, mixed in water. "Absolutely delicious," he would proclaim. "This hair spray could be sold as a nutritional supplement."