When Horst Rechelbacher, the iconic founder of Aveda, passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2014, many wondered, What would come of Intelligent Nutrients? The organic skin, hair, and aromatherapy brand launched by the “Father of Safe Cosmetics” in 2008 had gained a cult following for its certified-organic, food-grade, non-toxic, and plant-based ingredients. Unlike many so-called “natural,” uncertified skin and hair care products, Intelligent Nutrients’ is notable in that it carries a USDA Certified Organic seal. (He famously drank its hairspray to prove it was safe.)
Rechelbacher, an Austria-born hairstylist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, became famous for founding Aveda in Minneapolis in 1978. The pioneering skin and hair care brand was known as the first to merge natural ingredients with effective formulas. In 1997, he sold the brand to Estee Lauder, although he remained a consultant until 2003.
But Intelligent Nutrients lives on, under the tutelage of its new owners: his adult daughter, Nicole Thomas-Rechelbacher, and his widow and business partner, Kiran Stordalen. Last fall, the organic skin and hair care brand launched its first flagship store outside of Minneapolis, in New York City, which garnered headlines in WWD and is performing well, according to Stordalen—a pretty big deal at a time when many brick-and-mortar stores a disappearing.
“You’re right, it is a pretty big deal,” Storedalen responded. “It represents a market for us. New York still represents the face of business to the world in the U.S. — it’s a confluence of media and customers.” Plus, she says, Horst was a big believer in brick-and-mortar because “it gave us an opportunity to tell our full story, and it gives the customer the opportunity to have a sensory experience.”
The brand recently decided not to renew the lease for its Mall of America location, which ends at the end of this month, in favor of refocusing its efforts on its salon and store that the company operates out of its headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis, and continues to stock its products in hundreds of salons and stores across the U.S.
Over the past few years, the two women have slowly made some thoughtful changes to the Intelligent Nutrients brand, such as updating the packaging design to make it cleaner and more consistent. They also have tightened its focus on the skincare side of the brand, staying true to its roots by emphasizing sustainable and organic ingredients, yet maintaining its effectiveness. Stordalen and Thomas-Rechelbacher explained the evolution of Intelligent Nutrients during a recent event, in which the brand invited a couple dozen Twin Cities influencers to its Minneapolis HQ/salon/store.
“We want to honor that past but look toward the future, and make [Intelligent Nutrients] our own in a bigger way,” says Stordalen. “We both grew up in the business—Nicole as a young girl was surrounded by it, and I came into it as a young woman as well. We have the heritage and sense of where we came from, and a solid understanding of environmental responsibility and product development, so it’s about moving it into the future and keep it current.”
I recently had the opportunity to test some of the brand’s most popular products, including its Time Traveler Serum ($90 @ intelligentnutrients.com), which uses plant retinol science and sea bioactive ingredients, such as red algae, to kickstart aging skin cells into action without the skin stress caused by traditional chemical retinols. A month after religious, twice-daily use, my often-dry skin feels infinitely softer and has a much healthier glow than usual, and it feels as luxurious as it is pure. I also tried PureLuxe Replenishing Shampoo ($10.50-$75 @ intelligentnutrients.com), and Conditioner ($11.50-$85 @ intelligentnutrients.com), sulfate- and silicone-free, aloe-based blends packed with protein, emollients, and smoothing oils that infused my bleach-damaged hair with a ton of moisture and shine. The PureLuxe Replenishing Leave-in Conditioner ($34 @ intelligentnutrients.com) also helps to reduce frizz and improve shine for dry, damaged hair like mine.
Being that it’s summer, I also tested the Smart Armor Perfume Spray ($31 @ intelligentnutrients.com, also available in a serum). An alternative to chemical-packed, stinky bug sprays, the spray smells amazing and is free of unnatural ingredients. The downside is that it takes regular applications as it tends not to evaporate after half an hour or so, but it’s a great alternative if you don’t mind reapplying.
Shop the Intelligent Nutrients Mall of America store now through July 31 @ 158 West Market, Bloomington, at the Intelligent Nutrients flagship at 983 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, and online at intelligentnutrients.com
Time Traveler Serum ($90 @ intelligentnutrients.com)
PureLuxe Replenishing Shampoo ($10.50-$75 @ intelligentnutrients.com)
PureLuxe Replenishing Conditioner ($11.50-$85 @ intelligentnutrients.com)
PureLuxe Replenishing Leave-in Conditioner ($34 @ intelligentnutrients.com)
Smart Armor Perfume Spray ($31 @ intelligentnutrients.com)