Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda, died over the weekend after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I have known him since I was a kid, and had the privilege to work for him for several years. He was mercurial and fearless, and never accepted "no" as an answer. While working for him could be tough, years later I find that the lessons I learned from him influence me every day—and continue to play into my love of the creative and innovative process that I have now embraced as a career.
Be A Trailblazer.
When Horst founded the Aveda Corporation in 1978, no one saw the beauty industry like he did: as health and beauty combined. Never one to be idle, he started making shampoos and conditioners from a mix of natural ingredients, and gathering people around him who could also see his vision of holistic beauty. I once heard him say that you could drink any of the hair care products he made. (Please don't.) But that's how committed he was to finding and creating a plant-based way to enhance beauty. These days "health and beauty" are more common together, than not. Back then, it was revolutionary. Visionary. He pioneered the healthy beauty movement in the same way that today's digital/tech pioneers are changing how we see technology. And like many pioneers, he was years—if not decades—ahead of his time. Being a trailblazer is often a lonely path. But without trailblazers like Horst, new products—and new categories of products—would never exist. That's one of the things I love about working with Ideas To Go clients. Every week we help create new trailblazers, in almost every product category.
Horst was known in the salon and beauty industry as having cult-like followers—or groupies. While there's some tongue-in-cheek-ness in that, there is also an overwhelming truth. Because of his passion and conviction in what he believed in, he inspired thousands of people. Not just to change how they saw the world of beauty, but how they lived their lives, and understood their own impact on the environment. Inspiring leaders are rare. He taught me to be passionate in what I believe in, inspire others to be passionate, and search for people to inspire me every day.
Never Settle. Never Stop Creating.
Horst was a man who never stopped seeing possibilities. It is a trait that is both frustrating and liberating. He could put two seemingly unconnected things together—like ingredients and desired results—and find a way (or find the people who could find a way) to make something real. It takes a level of fearlessness and recklessness to never settle. He had both in spades. It's that type of risk-taking that is essential in innovation—whether you're in the beauty industry, food industry or financial industry. It was this belief in possibilities that eventually led me to Ideas To Go—where possibilities are endless, passion for creativity is a daily ritual, and inspiring people are in abundance.
Thank you Horst. You were a mad genius. A creative visionary. And an indelible influence on who I am and where I am today.
Liza Babcock is the Director of Operations at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer. She worked at Aveda as a Copywriter from 1996-1999.
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Liza Babcock is a Creative and Marketing Writer at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.