Hair care brand Ceremony is a celebration of Latin American culture, and many trips to the region have inspired founder Babba Rivera. The brand uses both popular Latin American hair care ingredients and also aesthetically references the region, for example the bright color-blocked packaging is a nod to Old San Juan, and the ingredients listed in the boxes resemble washcloths in local restaurants.
A frequent traveler, we asked Rivera for her best Latin American travel trips and also how her brand (which just became available on Sephora.com) is a symbol of Latinx representation today.
What motivated you to launch a LatinX-inspired hair care brand?
Babba Rivera: I always knew that I would launch a beauty brand and that it would have something to do with my heritage. As someone who grew up in a very homogeneous country, Sweden, I never saw myself represented, neither in the products I used nor in the media. As a result, I started to assimilate and minimize my Latinidad. Fast forward to being a young adult and thinking about starting a family, I began to unpack many of these decisions and the path that has brought me to where I am today. I realized that being proud of myself isn’t something I wanted my kids to experience. The Latin community has always been marginalized and stereotyped into things like the cleaning lady or a fiery desperate housewife. I had a limiting belief that being Spanish was a disadvantage and I wanted to dismantle that. I don’t come from a privileged background, but I’ve been lucky enough to create my own powerful channels, whether it’s on Instagram or through my professional connections. I wanted to use it to bring about the change I wished I had growing up.
Ceremonia uses ingredients that are specifically sourced from Latin American countries. Can you walk me through some of them and what they do for her?
That’s one of my favorite things about developing Ceremonia, I learned so much about the richness of Latin culture – there are so many sacred rituals that are native to the region. It has so many rich plants and fruits that we have been using for decades, but somehow they haven’t reached the world stage yet. When we started our formulation, I used native plants and wanted to replace many filler ingredients with natural ingredients. One of our hero ingredients is guava and we have a whole guava collection, it’s such a potent fruit. Guava contains about five times more vitamin C than oranges and is packed with antioxidants. It’s also a natural UV protection agent, so it’s in our summer collection. We also use maracuja (passion fruit), babasu, aloe vera and cupuaçu.
What are your favorite places to visit in Latin America? What are the best experiences to have there?
I love Latin America, I want to prioritize travel there because I find so much inspiration for Ceremonia there. I love Mexico it’s so easy to get there from the east coast in the US My family is from Chile and one of the coolest places to visit there is Valle de Elqio it’s where pisco is made and it has a beautiful pristine landscape, it looks like a postcard. I also really like Valparaíso, it’s a creative fishing village. There is a lot of art and it was one of the first places to recognize graffiti as art. I also recently spent six weeks in the Dominican Republic, I loved the convenience of Caribbean life.
Which Ceremonia products do you recommend for travel?
Definitely the guava rescue spray and leave-in conditioner. The rescue spray protects your hair from the sun and many of summer’s stressors, such as salt water or chlorine. I usually have it in my beach bag. The leave-in conditioner is perfect for hair after a beach day when it is confused and thirsty.
What are some ways you can stay organized while running your business remotely?
When it comes to work, you have two attitudes: I work or I don’t work, I’m not one of those people who goes to a coffee shop and works for a while. I like to set the tone for my work, for example when I was in the Dominican Republic I designated one room as my office and set up all my Ceremonia products, laptop and chair there. I would step in and out of that space, and in and out of work with it. I worked from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, but then took a lunch break with my daughter. I try to be more mindful about my work, before I start and end the day, I write intentions. I decide what I want to achieve and then I do those things first. At the end of the day, if I didn’t get what I wanted, I create an intention for the next day.
What is your favorite recent travel memory?
Last December, when we were in Sweden, the day before my birthday, and my daughter just decided to run for my whole family. It felt like a gift to me and my family. Alma is the best, it’s a lot of fun to travel with her.