Soul Purpose

Sometimes when I interview sources for a story, there is single quote that replays itself in my head for days. Most recently, this happened during a phone interview with Cynthia Sansone, one of the owners of Racine de Beaute Salon and Spa in Islip, New York, and co-founder of the program Mondays at Racine, which offers complimentary services to women undergoing cancer treatment. Sansone was telling me that although the reason the salon started doing the services was strictly altruistic, the program itself has benefited the owners, their team and their business in a myriad of ways. “It’s truly addressed every part of our soul,” she said.

It’s a nice quote to be sure, but I wasn’t really sure why that line resonated so strongly with me until I later realized I hadn’t just heardher speak those words, I felt them. Something about the phrasing of the words and the tremor in her voice bounced through cell towers across the country to California and grabbed me, and I truly understood just what this program meant to Sansone, her sisters who helped found it, and their clients. I felt her words, because Sansone was speaking through her soul.

I was thinking about that experience in mid-February when we learned the news that Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda, then Intelligent Nutrients—passed away. One didn’t need to have a personal relationship with Horst to hear his soul speak—it was loud and clear. Already a successful stylist and salon owner by the 1970s, Horst started with a comprehensive approach to health and well-being, combined it with his knowledge of herbs and flowers, then folded in his newly discovered ayurvedic principles when he created Aveda.

As a result, Horst founded much more than a successful product line. He reshaped thinking about consumer safety, salon business sustainability, salon and spa culture, experiential services, and environmental responsibility. He spoke through the thousands of salon owners who became his tribe, adopting his principles and practices along with his products. He spoke through the service providers who embraced the culture along with his ingredients and passed the wisdom of both onto their guests. And, he spoke through consumers, who were attracted by his distinct aromas, got hooked by the brand’s unique rituals, and eventually became converts to the lifestyle.

He spoke through his soul, and the world listened. And, I suspect, we’ll be listening for years to come.

To help more salons and spas get in touch with the soulful side their businesses, this month we’re introducing our Lessons in Giving Back feature and its companion Take Action Guide. Although we planned this content months before Horst’s passing, his life’s example certainly helps illustrate the lessons and rewards of giving back.

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