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Remembering Horst

Horst Rechelbacher, a trailblazer who spurred the botanical boom in salons and founded Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients passed away in February at age 72. Since that time, the tributes have been pouring in for this legend, who left an indelible mark on our industry. Here, industry gurus share some of their fondest memories. 

“Horst was my dear friend for more than 50 years. I considered him to be a brother. He had a profound effect on me both personally and professionally. He was a very astute businessman. As an artist, his sense of aesthetics was second to none. His call to environmentalism came from his heart. Mother Earth has lost one of her greatest friends. The industry has lost a genius. Now is the time for all of us to take up the reins.” —Jerry Gordon, owner, J. Gordon Designs

“I was fortunate to have worked for Horst as his publicist back in 1998 after Estée Lauder acquired Aveda. On my first assignment, we traveled the country together on a media tour. I quickly learned that besides being a true visionary, Horst was a teacher. Every day was a new learning experience. He had amazing intuition and always shared nuggets of wisdom. He taught me to pay attention to the signs of the universe and more importantly to stay in the day and live in the now. Make the most of each and every day and opportunity.” —Tina Thompson, founder, Tina Thompson Communications

“I was a hair stylist in 1988, when Horst hired me to fill an Aveda Regional Sales Director position. His vision was clear, and he kept his small team of employees focused on that vision. It was common for Horst to shut down a product launch, because it didn't fit our environmental mission-even though it was far into development. He never wavered from his mission and vision. Horst taught me to deeply understand how every action affects the earth and its environment. He was a master at blending beauty and fashion with environmental leadership and responsibility. His legacy lives on, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity he granted me.”—June Olson, executive director, Aveda

“One of the great lessons I learned from Horst was what he called, ‘the business of being.’  This ever-evolving concept was to think about the relationship between your thoughts, words and actions and take that energy to develop your vision for an inspired life. Then, if you really want to achieve your vision, you need to practice the daily ritual of “mirroring” which is a self-reflection. What choices did you make that day that lead you closer to your vision (bliss) or perhaps further away which will ultimately cause you pain. This is a worthwhile discipline that I still try to practice every day. Thank you, Horst, for challenging all of us to live an inspired life.” – Sue Trondson, vice president salon sales, Aveda

“As a 23 year old exploring who I was and what I was here to be and do, Horst's approach to beauty and wellness spoke to me instantly. Horst would often stay in Springfield, Louisiana with Edwin and I, and share his vision of the opportunity and obligation he felt our industry had to influence society.  In the late '70s and '80s, there was a lack of consciousness regarding any connection between beauty and health, particularly in the rock & roll era of our industry. The challenge to awaken the awareness of the hairdresser became my calling and Aveda was the tool to support that awakening for individual and social responsibility and contribution. To this day, Horst and my late Edwin, are the people that influenced my thinking and my life the most. My mission continues.”— Debra Neill Baker, principal, NeillTSP (aka Beauty Business Evangelist)

About the Author

Kelley Donahue

As Editor in Chief of American Salon, Kelley Donahue reports on all aspects of the professional beauty industry, including salon business-building strategies, seasonal hair and fashion trends, salon services and techniques, and timely issues impacting manufacturers, schools, salons and distributor principals. In addition to conducting photo shoots--one of which was the recipient of an ABBIES Award for Best Magazine Cover--Donahue also travels extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, sourcing out new trends and representing American Salon at major industry functions and educational events.