Horst Rechelbacher, chief executive officer of Intelligent Nutrients and founder of Aveda, is a green marketer supreme.

He told summit attendees that he thanks a former client of his — Shirley Hutton, a.k.a. the “Pink Cadillac Lady” at Mary Kay Cosmetics — for teaching him the ins and outs of marketing.

“She was number one at the whole Mary Kay network, and she used to come into the salon and say, ‘Horst, I love the way you do my hair, but you are not efficient behind the chair when it comes to sales,'” Rechelbacher explained. “‘Because you never talk about what you got. See my big Cadillac out there? I have fun. I build relationships.’

“And I go, ‘yeah?’ She says, ‘yeah.’ Try to teach me what you’re doing, be my coach, I said.”

So she pitched in, and Rechelbacher scored record sales.

“I started training my people. Then I started making product and training the network,” he said. “And I think that’s the success of Aveda today, because it became an exclusive mentality of service where we actually touched people. We invented stress-relieving treatments.”

He said it all goes back to “sharing energetics,” or the flow and transformation of energy.

“Because business is about relationships, and business is about transaction of action, it’s energetics,” he said. “Your energy versus my energy — software, information, hardware, products.

“One of the most important things in my life I’ve been studying is what the relationships are between mind and body, because I’ve always been interested in the psychology of behavior. Why do people behave? Why do people buy?”

“Because ‘why’ is so important,” he maintained.

Rechelbacher is confident that business organizations can be spiritual about healing, where the client is paid utmost attention. He is a firm believer that, in particular, the organic industry, which is growing exponentially in sales and popularity, will be key in the future.

Rechelbacher described one conference he went to in Boston, attended by 5,000 women, where speakers discussed how “we are living in a chemical stew,” including possible carcinogens in beauty products. Many in the audience had a strong emotional response.

This story first appeared in the May 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

So did Rechelbacher.

“I have always been uncomfortable with lipsticks,” he said, “because I have been studying nutritional assimilation. I’ve been interested in nutrition and how we deliver nutrition so it assimilates better, so it’s not swallowed, so it goes through the body. Because the body’s acid destroys a lot of the nutrition we take. So what came up through research are lips. Anything we put onto the lips immediately goes into the bloodstream, it is an excellent delivery system.”

Rechelbacher has wasted no time in getting into the eco-friendly beauty trend. He has, for instance, trademarked a product called Lip Delivery Nutrition with Color, which supplies the body with nutrients while giving lips a tint.

“I am already getting ready for this movement,” he said. “Why? Because I’m a cosmetics businessperson who pays attention to customers, who doesn’t want to fight them. Obviously, they’re looking for something that to them is an alternative, which nurtures them.”

Given that, Rechelbacher believes big business opportunities are to be found in plants, water, sunscreens and air purifiers.

“This is what I call the new economy — fixing things,” he said. “So eco-chic is where fashion is. This is what I call lifestyle. There are a lot of customers out there who are waiting for the goods.”

However, he cautions companies not to go green simply because it’s a great financial opportunity (at present, organic businesses ring up $21 billion, and by the end of the decade they’re expected to generate $63 billion), but rather “because you live it yourself. You cannot be an environmental company until you learn to walk the talk.”

Rechelbacher does just that. Although industry executives routinely point to an unblemished safety record, Rechelbacher became concerned with talk of toxic beauty and consumer products, and he searched out natural cleansing substances, such as leafy green foods that help the liver clean itself. He even made edible shampoo.

His is beauty from the outside in — and inside out.

“My marketing strategy will be that it is made from nutritional substances, and yes, it is safe because it is edible,” he said.

Rechelbacher’s new company, Intelligent Nutrients, is based in a warehouse in Minneapolis and has conceived “head-to-toe” products with one cleanser for animals, humans and houses.

“To train my customer, the retailers, the people whom we work with, I believe in retreats,” he said. “I have 570 acres on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, and we do organic farming there. We teach massage.

“So many times, you and I have a great idea and what do we do?” he asked the audience. “Sometimes, we trash it because the team says it’s a bad idea, costs too much, whatever. Or we say it’s a great idea, and we put it on file in storage and we forget about it. Or, we can plant it and cultivate it and every day worship it, give consciousness to it, water it, make it grow up to become the new success — and it just can become a rule-breaker.”