Babba Rivera thought her best hair days were behind her—until she started her own line.
“I’m not your typical beauty brand founder,” says Babba Rivera, who started Ceremonia, a haircare brand rooted in (pun, yes) her Latin heritage and the rituals that she grew up with. “I feel like my unconventional path has been a great asset for me,” says Rivera. “I initially built my career in fashion, then tech, and then merged all of my experiences into starting my first company, which was a brand marketing agency focused on DTC businesses within wellness, beauty and fashion.” A Chilean immigrant living in Sweden, Rivera felt out of place growing up. Her winding path has given her a unique perspective on the beauty industry.
Ceremonia (which was one of only 58 Latin-founded brands to raise $1 million in venture funding), is built around a wellness approach to hair. “The hair care category is still very much focused on styling,” explains Rivera. “It’s the equivalent of makeup for your hair. This realization sparked the desire to bring a care and wellness aspect.” Think of it as skincare—for your hair.
Here, Rivera talks about launching a brand while postpartum and having a dialogue with her community.
On Her Proudest Moment
“By far, it’s welcoming my daughter to this world. Her arrival came by surprise five weeks early, and as such, coincided with Ceremonia one week after. My baby was still at the NICU, but I was so filled with love hormones, gratitude and an immense sense of super power that I felt nothing but unstoppable and powered through with our launch in the midst of my proudest moment of becoming a mother.”
On the Power of Ritual
“Rituals are deeply rooted in my upbringing. I have many fond memories with both my mom and dad pertaining to rituals, and beauty rituals in particular. My mom taught me from an early age the importance of self-care rituals, she taught me this by simply practicing it for herself. She would shamelessly indulge in two-hour baths and showers, and everyone in the family knew better than to disturb her during this time. My dad would spend as much as 8 hours braiding my hair as a child. I had incredibly thick and long hair and he would patiently braid it all, strand by strand. It was our ritual and bonding moment.”
On Her Earliest Hair Memory
“Probably walking down the stairs to show off my outfit of the day to the family before pre-K, heading straight to my dad’s hairdresser chair to finalize my look of the day by getting my hair brushed by him. I got to pick out my hair tie for the day to complete my look, and off I went. Hair rituals were daily rituals in our household, so much so that our neighbor's son would come by every morning to get a look at my hairdo of the day before going to school himself.”
On Her Unique Products
“What truly sets Ceremonia products apart is our wellness approach to hair. Instead of giving into industry standards of masking hair symptoms through shortcut ingredients such as silicones, sulfates and parabens, we make a real effort in tackling the root cause of common hair woes. We’re creating the products we want to put on our own hair to unlock our very best hair days, versus opting for yet another quick-fix for the day at the expense of the longevity of our hair health. I wanted to create a line of products that will help us embark on a clean hair journey of revival and transformation, and feel immensely proud of what we’ve managed to achieve. My hair has never been this full and luscious, not to mention long (!), since I was a child. After decades of coloring and damaging my hair through chemicals and heat styling tools, I thought my childhood hair days were long gone. My hair journey of going back to my roots has been more fulfilling than I could ever imagine.”