Haircare brand Ceremonia is a celebration of Latin American culture, and many trips to the region helped inspire founder Babba Rivera. The brand uses both popular Latin American haircare ingredients and also references the region aesthetically, for example the bright color-blocked packaging, is a nod to old San Juan, and the ingredients listed inside the boxes resemble oil cloths 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 at Sephora.com) is a symbol of Latinx representation today.
What motivated you to launch a Latinx-inspired haircare brand?
Babba Rivera: I always knew that I was going to launch a beauty brand and that it would have something to do with my heritage. As someone who grew up in a very homogenous country, Sweden, I never saw myself represented, not in the products I was using 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 a lot of these decisions and the path that’s gotten me to where I am today. I realized that me not being proud of being in my skin, is not something I wanted my kids to experience. The Latin community has always been marginalized and stereotyped into people like the cleaning lady or a fiery desperate housewife. I had a limiting belief that being Hispanic was a disadvantage and I wanted to dismantle that. I don’t come from a privileged background but I’ve been lucky to create my own powerful channels whether it’s on Instagram or through my professional connections. I wanted to use those to drive the change I wish I had growing up.
Ceremonia uses ingredients sourced specifically from Latin American countries. Can you walk me through some of them and what they do for hair?
That’s been one of my favorite things about developing Ceremonia, I’ve 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’ve been using for decades but somehow, they haven’t made it to the world stage yet. When we started our formulation, I tapped into native plants and wanted to replace a lot of filler ingredients with natural ingredients. One of our hero ingredients is guava and we have an entire guava collection, it’s such a powerful fruit. Guava has about five times more Vitamin C than oranges and it’s filled with antioxidants. It’s also a natural agent for UV protection 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 traveling there because I find so much inspiration there for Ceremonia. I love Mexico, it’s so easy to get there from the east coast in the U.S. 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 untouched landscape, it looks like a postcard. I also really like Valparaíso, it’s a creative little fishing town. There’s a lot of art and it was one of the first places to recognize graffiti as art. I also spent six weeks in the Dominican Republic recently, I loved the ease of Caribbean life.
Which of Ceremonia’s products do you recommend for travel?
Definitely the guava rescue spray and leave-in conditioner. The rescue spray will protect your hair against the sun and many of the stressors of summer 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’s tangled and thirsty.
What are some ways you stay organized traveling and running your business remotely?
When it comes to work have two settings — I’m either working or I’m not. I like to set the tone for work, for example, when I was in the Dominican Republic, I designated one room as my office and set up all of my Ceremonia products, laptop and chair there. I would step in and step out of that space, and with it in and out of work. I would work from 8 to noon but then take a midday break with my daughter. I’m trying to be more intentional about my work, before I start and end the day, I write intentions. I decide what I want to accomplish and then I do those things first. At the end of the day, if I didn’t get to what I wanted, I create an intention for the next day.
What’s your favorite recent travel memory?
This past December when we were in Sweden, the day before my birthday my daughter just decided to start walking in front of my whole family. It felt like a gift to me and my family. Alma is the best, it’s really fun to travel with her.