COSTA MESA, Calif.--It all started in 1977 with a clove shampoo made with plant and flower products by Horst Rechelbacher, a Minneapolis hair stylist and entrepreneur. Now Rechelbacher's firm, Aveda Corp., makes more than 700 naturally based products in hair care, skin care, color cosmetics, fragrance and accessories. There also has been a proliferation of the company's retail stores, Aveda Esthetique. Last week, Aveda celebrated the opening of its 32nd store, an Aveda Esthetique here in South Coast Plaza. Later this month, a store is slated to open in Rome as well as a unit in Toronto. To Rechelbacher, these developments are steps toward his goal of making Aveda an integrated company in beauty, health care and food during the next decade. He hopes eventually to open 500 freestanding Aveda stores worldwide. Aveda hair care products are sold in 25,000 salons around the globe. The firm also operates a spa in Osceola, Wis. At just 544 square feet, the newest Aveda Esthetique here is one of South Coast Plaza's smallest stores. But it also may soon be among the center's most lucrative units, with a first-year sales projection of more than $1 million. Aveda's experience in New York may be an indication of how the new California unit will fare. Aveda's unit on Madison Avenue, which opened in fall 1989 at just 340 square feet, does $1.5 million in volume each year, according to the company. A larger 2,700-square-foot SoHo store, opened in September, may top $5 million its first year, based on early sales. Hair care products have led sales in Aveda Esthetique boutiques, accounting for 33 percent of volume. Skin care was second at 25 percent of business, followed by color cosmetics at 22 percent and fragrances at 20 percent. The South Coast Plaza store is owned by Caesar De Angelo, Aveda's Southern California distributor. All but five of Aveda's 32 stores are owned by licensees. "I like this entrepreneurial spirit," Rechelbacher said. "People have their heart in it. They're going to be there early and they're going to be there late. The quality of service is better." Rechelbacher predicted service will take on added importance in the future as the number of new nature-oriented beauty companies skyrockets. He also is counting on a very active research and development department to keep Aveda a step ahead in what he described as a race to be purest.
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