Nikolaus (Klaus) Heidegger was born August 19th, 1957 in a small farm village nestled above
Innsbruck, Austria. Klaus’ father worked five days a week, but on the weekends his mother and
father would work together along with the help of their three sons and a daughter, as “hobby
farmers.” They grew potatoes, corn and radishes, and they raised animals such as cows and sheep.
The fruits of their labor and the gifts brought forth from the land sustained them.
It was in the small rural village, surrounded by the towering Alps, pure mountain air, and a hard
working family and community, where the characteristics of Klaus’ identity, focus and many passions
These defining and stabilizing elements have allowed him to thrive professionally,
philanthropically and personally throughout his years to date, and remain his North Star as he
navigates toward the future.
The Alps provided a backdrop of inspiration and encouraged Klaus’ love of nature and his evident
desire and talent to excel at Alpine skiing. By the age of seventeen, Klaus became a member of the
Austrian National Ski Team, where his accomplishments throughout his skiing career between 1977
and 1979 include, but are not limited to: 2nd overall World Cup, 2nd overall Slalom (twice), 2nd overall
Giant Slalom, won the World Cups at Kitzbühel, Austria; Garmisch, Germany; Voss, Norway;
Farano, Japan and Wengen, Switzerland. Klaus was also Austrian Champion in Slalom and Giant
Slalom eight times. Klaus considers winning the grand slam of skiing, Kitzbühel, Wengen, and
Garmisch, in the same year as his favorite moment of his ski-racing career.
Klaus met his wife Jami Morse in Austria while she was working as the team’s aerobics instructor.
As do many former European ski racers, Klaus built a small hotel and café/restaurant that he and
Jami ran in Axams, Austria until Jami’s father asked them to return to Jami’s native New York City,
N.Y. to help her family’s business, Kiehl’s Since 1851. Jami and Klaus became the fourth-generation
owners and operators of Kiehl’s; and, during their tenure, the company thrived and evolved from a
successful local destination with limited distribution to an elite worldwide beauty and skin-care line.
Klaus served as President of Kiehl’s from 1990 until the company sold to L’Oreal in 2000.
Jami and Klaus both share a commitment to and a love for health and fitness. This passion led
Klaus to invest in a Swiss company called Masai Barefoot Technology, or MBT. These “anti-shoes”
were responsible for instigating the frenzy we now call “rocker shoes,” and they can be found in
hundreds of stores around the globe. MBT was sold to Berkshire Partners in 2011.
Jami and Klaus recently entered back into the beauty arena with Retrouvé, a new luxury line of
bespoke skin-care products that were recently launched in Europe.
The Heidegger family generously donates a great deal of their time, energy and resources to their
many philanthropic interests and pursuits; but, while Klaus was investigating and studying the
inspiration for MBT (the Masai Warriors), his research of the farmers in Africa and their villages
touched him deeply. He was made aware of the greatest danger to their existence and the ripple
effect of devastation that will ensue when there is a lack of their most precious natural resource,
water. Water is the lifeline to existence of all humanity, and these amazing, noble people needed
help. Klaus devoted and donated time and funding for the building of bore holes in desolate African
villages. These bore holes are dug deep into the ground and provide life-sustaining water to barren
and droughty regions. Their efforts have assisted approximately seventy thousand people, and Klaus
has continued to expand his reach. Along with Robert Kennedy Jr., Klaus sits on the board of the
fastest-growing environmental movement today, Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc; an organization that
champions clean, swimmable, drinkable, fishable waterways worldwide, whilst simultaneously
protecting communities and ecosystems.
In 2013, Klaus’ autobiographical account of his life, My American Dream, that was chronicled by
Austrian author and journalist Claudio Honsal was published, and it immediately rose to sixth
position, on the Media Control GfK Bestseller List. The book was designed to encourage others and
to show how everyone can with hard work, dedication, perseverance and resilience achieve their
dreams-just as the mountain farmers’ son was able to achieve his.
Today, Klaus is thoroughly ensconced in the development of a state-of-the-art, equestrian facility and
home that he is in the process of designing for his family and specifically his two daughters, Nicoletta
and Hannah, who are both avid equestrians. It is on this expanse of land that he is able to express
his desires for not only his family but for the world: He is in the process of creating a self-sustaining
property that will be capable of generating its own power source through solar panels. The end goal
is to produce enough power so the property may give back to the grid. The wells on the property
will supply their own water requirements, and the home that will be built will also be an eco-friendly,
green home that will have a low carbon footprint. The stables for their horses and the auxiliary
buildings that have been built to date have been constructed with natural design elements, and they
have a cohesive color palette, so they may blend with the natural landscape. Currently, plans are in
development to utilize the abundant produce grown at the ranch so their raw ingredients may be
incorporated into some of the Retrouvé products.
When Klaus isn’t watching his daughters compete in show jumping, he finds much joy in his son
Max’s athletic achievements in basketball. Klaus and Jami’s dream for their children is that they may
be good human beings, productive citizens with plenty of ambition to follow their own dreams. And
how does a man with so many interests and demands escape, rejuvenate and recharge? Klaus still
loves the adrenaline rush of speed, albeit now cycling on his road bike or flying his plane above the
clouds. His favorite poem, by John Magee, Jr., articulates the feelings of solace and peace Klaus
experiences in that space and time...
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew-
And, while with silent, lifting mind I trod
The high-untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
-John Gillespie Magee, Jr.