On February 17, Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda Corp., died at the age of 72 from pancreatic cancer complications. Rechelbacher launched Aveda Corp. back in 1978, hoping to bridge the gap between beauty and medicine. He had learned about the benefits of natural herbs and plants from his mother, an Austrian herbalist. His knowledge became the foundation of Aveda, which would become a multi-million dollar line of upscale, organic salon and beauty products used around the world.
Rechelbacher was known for his strong personality and commitment to creating organic, safe ingredients. He worked hard to make products USDA-certified organic, and even safe enough for consumption, theoretically. One of his trademark pitches, in fact, was, “Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth,” a pitch that was often followed by Rechelbacher taste-testing his own products to prove the point. Many today call him the “Father of Safe Cosmetics” for the work he’s done to advance the use of safe ingredients in everything from lip gloss to hairspray.
“It’s the most creative company that there is in the salon industry. It’s changed how the beauty industry looks at natural and organic hair products,” says Rick VanDeRiet of Namaste Pure Design Salon in Denver, Colorado. “The founder established a caring nature for the public by harvesting from small indigenous groups of people. This has helped them sustain a means of income. I personally chose Aveda because of these two unique components that I have yet to find in any other product line.”
As demand increases for safe and organic product ingredients in the U.S., it’s likely that Rechelbacher’s legacy of the Aveda company will not only live on, but prosper and continue to grow as well. Already, Aveda is carried by 25,000 salons and stores around the globe.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is thankful for what Rechelbacher has done for them, saying that, “Horst believed so deeply in our work.” The Campaign, with Rechelbacher’s help, was recently able to successfully petition Johnson & Johnson to remove two cancer-linked ingredients from their baby shampoo. Mr. Rechelbacher is survived by his wife, Kiran Stordalen, two children, and four grandchildren.