Hair stylist, environmentalist and iconoclast were some of the names Horst was proud to bear. Our I-N founding father, who was the first in the industry to bring safe, natural and sustainable products to market, is how we see him.
Horst Rechelbacher was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1941. His mother was a herbalist, his father a shoemaker/designer and he was the youngest of three brothers. It is mainly the profession of his mother, who had her own pharmacy with herbal medicinal products, that he often spent time in as a small boy and would often be inspired by in later life.
His family's flat overlooked a small salon across the street in the centre of Klagenfurt. During his childhood, Horst had many opportunities to observe the daily activities of the salon, which inspired him to choose a vocation and pursue formal training in the salon profession. At the age of 14, he began a three-year apprenticeship in the same salon. During his apprenticeship, he won the Austrian Junior Championships three times. At 17, he moved to Italy and started working in an exclusive salon in Rome.
He proved to have talent, for after Rome he worked in salons in London and New York, where in the early
1960s his employer started letting him participate in hairstyling competitions organised by trade associations.
Rechelbacher was competing in Minneapolis in 1965 when
he was seriously injured in a car accident. After a six-month recovery, he decided to settle in Minneapolis, now home to the I-N International headquarters, and open a salon. It grew into a small chain known as Horst & Friends.
His childhood interest in herbal medicine was rekindled in 1970 by an Indian guru he had met in Minneapolis, when he attended his lecture on the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine using herbs and plants.
The encounter inspired him to spend six months in India, where he learned about the herbs, oils and plants used in the Ayurvedic tradition of healthcare and aromatherapy - skills he later applied to formulate his clove shampoos, cherry bark hair conditioners and lip glosses made from acai berries and purple maize.
"What's good for the earth is good for us. With advances in plant chemistry, there's simply no reason to make products any other way."
The foundation of his first skin and hair care brand, AVEDA, the name of which is derived from the Sanskrit word Ayurveda, meaning "science of life", was thus laid in 1978. After 19 years at the helm, Horst sold Aveda to the Estée Lauder Companies group, where he continued to play an active role on AVEDA's board until 2003.
He would then retire to his farm in Wisconsin, where he took the time to grow his own vegetables, fruits and herbs and to work as an environmentalist.
As Horst felt that he could not fully focus on his convictions without also effectively putting them into practice, he would put his money where his mouth was. He developed new formulas in which he would take
even more and better account of current social standards, the ingredients, sustainability and safety of the products. The foundation of Intelligent Nutrients was laid.
In 2008, Intelligent Nutrients became the first U.S.D.A.-certified brand to hit the market, the culmination of a lifelong passion for clean, green, safe & organic ingredients that are good for you and the earth.
In 2003, he opened his first Intelligent Nutrients salon and gave it a pharmacy look & feel, inspired by his mother's shop.
When Horst lost his life in 2014 due to complications from pancreatic cancer, his life partner Kiran Stordalen and his daughter Nicole Rechelbacher took over. They would continue Horst's life’s work.
They chose to re-examine the entire I-N range and see where they could get even better products. The range became more compact, the design was modernised and in March 2021 they relaunched under the name I-N,
Some recognitions Horst has received
Published his first book "Rejuvenation: Wellness Guide for Women and Men". Endorses the Valdez/Ceres principles of environmental sustainability, making Aveda the first company to do so.
Named one of the most influential environmentalists in the US by Vanity Fair magazine, and again in 2005.
Publishes "Aveda Rituals: A Daily Guide to Natural Health and Beauty". Produces the experimental film "Hidden Medicine About Indigenous Peoples and the Environment".
Awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the NAHA (North American Hairdressers Association). Opens an organic café with a complete line of USDA organic foods, juices, nutraceuticals and supplements.
Received the Rachel Carson Award for a lifetime of commitment to environmental ethics and integrity.
Honoured by the Spa & Salon Professional Association as an Industry Innovator & Legend for lifetime contribution to the cosmetology industry.
Published "Minding Your Business: Profit that Restores the Planet". Inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions and as one of the state's most distinguished business leaders of all time.
Honoured by the International Spa Association (ISPA) with the ISPA Visionary Leader Award.
Honoured by Beauty Changes Lives with the Legacy Award. "Honouring Horst, is a privilege for the Foundation. In doing so, we are also honouring the thousands of industry members who have been touched
by Horst, by his life's work and his talent".
The Horst M. Rechelbacher Foundation introduced two Beauty Changes Lives scholarships to honour Horst's legacy of awareness, care and compassion for beauty professionals, guests and the planet.