Horst Rechelbacher launched the hair care company Aveda in 1978 and, over the next 19 years, turned the industry on its ear. Suddenly, everyone was talking organics and exotics and aromatherapy. That was the Aveda effect.
Where Aveda fell short, Rechelbacher acknowledges, was in its stewardship of the environment. "I tried my best, but when I started, there was no such thing as USDA organic certified," he says. "The chemical manufacturers told us that this or that was the best we had. We were lied to -- but we learned."
Having sold Aveda to Estée Lauder for $300 million in 1997 (and having satisfied the terms of a noncompete), Rechelbacher is getting back into beauty with a dramatic expansion of his little nutraceuticals company, Intelligent Nutrients. This time, his products are organic to the point that any of them can be ingested. ("Put my hair spray in gin -- it tastes very good," he says.) The founder grows some ingredients on his 100-acre farm in Osceola, Wisconsin.
At age 69, Rechelbacher is betting that farm, in some sense, on the venture. "I am self-financed, because I want to design my destiny," he says. "I don't need to kiss ass or pay interest."