Ceremonia invites you to join the family with a clean haircare brand that celebrates, champions, and uplifts the Latinx community. Hair and beauty have always been essential components of Ceremonia founder Babba Rivera’s upbringing whose father was a hairdresser. When she moved from Sweden to the United States she was able to embrace, love, and reconnect with her Latin heritage that empowered her to create Ceremonia. Ceremonia is a sustainable brand that features rich ingredients from the heart of Latin American countries like babassu oil, patua oil, maracuja oil, and cupuacu oil which are vegan and cruelty free. Babba wanted to be intentional in sourcing and extracting ingredients that were not harmful, toxic, and had tangible benefits for customers. Ceremonia’s products seek to help promote healthy scalp care, frizz control, dry and damaged hair. We are pleased to share more about Babba’s journey to creating Ceremonia and how she champions Latinx culture and community as an entrepreneur.

Leaders in Curls Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera Celebrates The Richness of Latinx Culture

You originally grew up in Sweden, where did you go to find representation from your culture?

Growing up as a Latin American immigrant in a homogenous country like Sweden, I never found myself represented in mainstream media and the products I consumed, especially in beauty. I grew up very closely connected to my culture thanks to my parents who to this day only speak Spanish, and who have a large community of Chilenos around them in Sweden. That being said, despite having a rich community of Latinos as part of my upbringing, I never saw people like us represented in any success stories. Once I moved to NYC, I was able to for the first time connect with people who, just like me, grew up in between cultures, and who had set out to create something big for themselves. The Latinx community here inspired me to reconnect with my heritage and honor it, in a pursuit to change the status quo around what it means to be Latinx.

How did growing up in Sweden shape how you viewed your hair?

I was not proud of my hair growing up. As everyone was blonde and had thin and tamed hair, I remember hating my thick hair that was so wild in comparison to my Swedish friends’ hair. I remember how I envied them stepping straight out of the shower after gym class and letting their hair air dry straight and frizz-free, whereas mine seemed to grow an aura of frizz by the minute. I was so excited to have discovered the hair straightener which allowed me to mask my natural waves, and it became like an addiction for me, I would bring it everywhere. Between straightening my hair on a daily basis and bleaching it to be less dark – my hair was completely malnourished. I could never just let my hair air dry or leave the house without first spending about an hour blow drying and straightening it under heavy styling. As a result, it kept getting more and more dry and damaged. Today, I am so happy to be in a place where I can embrace my natural hair instead of trying to make it something it’s not. Ceremonia was born out of the desire to reclaim my natural hair with products that will support my hair instead of masking and damaging it. 

Leaders in Curls Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera Celebrates The Richness of Latinx Culture

How did you transition from the tech industry to the beauty world?

I truly built my career in the tech industry – the fast-paced environment and startup culture suited my personality type very well, and I think that’s when I realized I did not want a traditional fashion career. My passion for beauty is in many ways the result of all the multifaceted life I’ve built up. I don’t fall into one single category, and Ceremonia is in many ways my life’s work as so much of me and my passions fit into this journey. The creative aspect of building a brand, the marketing and sales aspect of growing a brand, and not to mention the startup hustle and business mentality that it takes to make it successful.

When did you first notice the need for Latinx representation in the hair industry?

Despite the modern Latinx community, and the fact that Hispanics account for 20% of the U.S. population, I still witnessed an enormous void of Latinx representation in almost every aspect of my life after my arrival to the States. I noticed this professionally, in the media, the brands I consumed and not to mention role models in entrepreneurship. As such, I began to feel a strong sense of responsibility to propel change. Ceremonia was born out of the desire to celebrate the richness of the Latin culture, inspired by the rituals I grew up with. Ceremonia provides a wellness approach to hair through inclusivity and cultural relevance.

Read: 20 Years After Selena, Where Does Latinx Representation Stand?

Leaders in Curls Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera Celebrates The Richness of Latinx Culture

What does the word “Ceremonia” mean to you?

The brand name translates to “ceremony” in Spanish. I learned from an early age that beauty is a form of self-care. My mother practiced beauty rituals as a form of self-love, and taught me it is something you do for yourself, not something you do to impress others. I wanted Ceremonia to be an extension of this belief and I wanted to reframe the routine of taking care of your hair as a ritual to reconnect with yourself and the joy of being proud to be You. 

Why was sustainability a crucial part of your brand?

I am a firm believer in the power that nature holds, and as such, we need to protect it at all cost. Although sustainability should be an uncompromisable essential for brands today, we recognize that the industry still has lengths to go. For Ceremonia, every decision we make is guided by our commitment to creating a brand of the future that cares about people and the earth, so that you can enjoy products that are good for you and kind to the planet at the same time. 

Leaders in Curls Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera Celebrates The Richness of Latinx Culture

What are three stereotypes you could debunk about Latinx hair?

In general, I hope to challenge any and all stereotypes and outdated expectations for what Latinx hair should or shouldn’t look like. There is no one size fits all approach, especially with hair, and especially within the varied cultural richness of the Latinx culture. Most importantly, there is no such thing as pelo malo!! For the longest time, Latinx women have been made to believe that beautiful hair equals straight, shiny and frizz-free hair that is perfectly tamed. At Ceremonia, we celebrate the full spectrum of hair types, including the big category of ‘in-between’ hair. You know the hair that is not straight, yet not fully curly? The hair that lives its own life and has its own personality, some days it’s in one mood and other in a different mood. Embracing who your hair wants to be without judgment.

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How does Ceremonia stay connected with culture and community?

Community is the fabric and DNA of who we are. We are quite literally manifested from a devotion to our community and are constantly seeking ways to illuminate the next generation. Our products are co-created with our community and we constantly lean on them through feedback sessions and forums as well as sampling. More importantly, we love to celebrate with our community, because when we win, we win together. Most recently, we brought our Latinx community for a Chivas bus ride to see our billboard in Times Square celebrating Latinx heritage month with Sephora. A true pinch-me moment, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this monumental milestone than with our community of Ceremonia Familia. 

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What are key ingredients first-time customers can look forward to in your products?

Ceremonia products are packed with tons of powerful natural ingredients from Latin America – it’s hard to only highlight a few! Two of my favorite ingredients are Babassu Oil found in our Hair Mask and the Aceite de Moska, which is an amazing ingredient for hair nutrition and shine. Yucca Extract is our groundbreaking natural alternative to sulfates that give our shampoos a really rich lather without stripping hair. We’re also obsessed with Pequi and Guava – they’re both superfruits with powerful antioxidant properties that make our styling products multitask as treatments.

The Latinx community is still growing within the hairspace, what does being a Latinx brand mean to you during Hispanic Heritage Month?

For the longest time I had this limiting belief that in order to stand a change in this world I had to change parts of who I am. I’ve come to realize just how incredibly important representation is and how detrimental the lack of it can be. This is why Latinx heritage month is so important to me. It’s a moment to come together as a community to celebrate – and to be celebrated- while highlighting the richness of our cultura. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to claim space. We account for the largest minority in the US, are one of the biggest spenders in beauty, and are also the fastest growing demographic in this country — growing 7x faster than any other demographic. It’s time these numbers are reflected in our society, whether it’s on the beauty shelves or on a Times Square billboard dedicated to highlighting Latinx voices! Through this journey, I hope that I am inspiring and paving the way for more Latinx founders and businesses.

Leaders in Curls Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera Celebrates The Richness of Latinx Culture

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