Most people would head for an early retirement after selling their company for hundreds of millions of dollars to Estée Lauder. Not Horst Rechelbacher, the the man behind Intelligent Nutrients, a health and beauty product company that utilizes 100 percent food-based and organic certified ingredients.
Austrian by birth, and son of an herbalist, Horst is an active environmentalist, innovative business leader, author, artist, and organic farmer. At age fourteen, Horst began a three-year apprenticeship in the beauty and salon industry. With an award-winning career as a hairstylist, in 1965, he started his own salons and product line called Horst. In 1978, Horst founded Aveda Corporation, a global plant-based cosmetic company. Nearly two decades later, he sold Aveda to Estée Lauder but remained a consultant until March 2003. Afterwards, he focused on his new product paradigm, Intelligent Nutrients.
Since the mid 1960's, Horst dedicated himself to analyzing the chemical constitution of plants, and pioneered flower and plant-based flavor-aroma-therapy, functional foods, and nutraceuticals to enhance personal health and well being. Vanity Fair magazine voted Horst as one of the most influential environmentalists in the U.S. in 1995 and again in 2005. Oh -- and he's authored three books, too.
He currently resides in Wisconsin and New York City, and his organic farm in Wisconsin (where he grows ingredients for Intelligent Nutrients products) is solar, wind and geothermal powered.
In my interview with Horst we talk about Ayurveda, the importance of organic certification, the future of beauty, stem cells, yoga, meditation, and more!
MBG: You've studied Ayurveda for some time -- how did you get started?
Horst Rechelbacher: I started studying Ayurveda in the 1970s. I met an Indian doctor/yogi at the University of Minnesota in the late 60s and then went to India to study with him. My study of Ayurveda continued on with him until 1996, when he left his body.
How has your knowledge of Ayurveda influenced your products and the message of Intelligent Nutrients?
Our products are now organic certified and our entire message is that we shouldn't put anything on our body that we can't digest or doesn't have nutritional value. The only way to measure authenticity and purity today is through organic certification. If it's not organic certified, it's probably a "greenwash."
Whole Foods is now pushing for certification in beauty products. Has that accomplished a lot?
Absolutely, that's why I have a call into Walter Robb at Whole Foods Market. For Whole Foods to do what they've just done is brilliant. There's so much potential there.
After you sold Aveda to Estée Lauder, did you contemplate retiring?
I was contemplating retirement. But when I looked at the industry and saw all the greenwashing, I had to do something. I try to be an activist, but activism without 'show and tell' isn't as useful. So I got back at it and started reinventing. It made sense to me. Aveda never lived up to my expectations so I left and did my own thing.
How didn't it live up to your expectations?
We could've been certified organic, so what I'm doing now with Intelligent Nutrients could be considered the 21st century version.