Lessons in Cool: Ceremonia Founder Babba Rivera

  • Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
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Welcome to Lessons In Cool, a new series all about the people we’re constantly inspired by. They are tastemakers, curators of style, thought leaders, and well, just cool.

Meet Babba Rivera. Over the last few years, she’s made a name for herself working on brand marketing for everyone from Uber and Glossier to Bumble and Ritual — and now she has her own brand. In October 2020, Rivera launched Cermonia, a clean hair care brand rooted in Latinx heritage and inspired by her own upbringing. “As a child, I never saw myself represented in the media, in the business world or in the products that I consumed. The desire to change that narrative for my own daughter's generation has been a driving force for me at this stage of my career,” says Rivera, who grew up in Sweden. “With Ceremonia I am bringing back my own orgullo of Latinx and hope to empower the future generation of consumers and entrepreneurs.” We caught up with the founder and new mom (!) to hear more about how she balances it all, why the future is Latinx, and how she defines cool.

Name & Occupation:

Babba Rivera, Founder and CEO of Ceremonia

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Ambitious. Unconventional. Loving.

Tell us about your brand, Ceremonia. What inspired you to start your own brand?

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. Upon arriving in the U.S., I reconnected with my Latinx heritage thanks to the big population of Hispanics here. For the first time, I could see myself in others and realized how many have grown up in-between cultures, just like myself.

However, despite the modern Latinx community I met, coupled with 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; professionally, in the media, the brands I consume and not to mention role models in entrepreneurship. As such, I began to feel a strong sense of responsibility to propel change.

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Ceremonia was born out of the desire to celebrate the richness of Latin culture, while highlighting the next-generation of Latinx. Inspired by the rituals I grew up with, alongside a strong understanding for the modern consumer, Ceremonia provides a new-age perspective to hair care for all.

The idea for Ceremonia came into my head last September, while traveling for Fashion Month. I was once again reminded by how often I was the only Latin represented in these settings, which got my wheels turning. I decided to do some more research before committing to pursuing the idea, and was frankly surprised by the data that came out of it, such as the fact that Hispanics spend 46% more on hair care products than non-Hispanics, coupled with the fact that the median age is 27, making it the youngest demographic. It became clear to me that the future is Latinx, and the world is just waiting for someone to lead the charge.

First thing you do when you wake up:

Breastfeed my daughter!

As a new mom, how do you balance work life with home life?

I certainly never thought I would launch a new company the same week of giving birth, hah! The mom/work/life balance quest is by far the most challenging experience to date for me. My best tip is to carve out time for self-care and remember that you can’t show up for others if you are not in a good place yourself.

Growing up, I remember seeing my mom treasure alone time in the bathroom with beauty rituals as a form of relaxation and self-love and I think that has had a great impact on my own relationship to self-care. I also think it’s important to be kind to oneself and remember that most people who you read about, myself included, who juggle high-profile careers and a family have help. I’ve had the privilege of having my own mothers help for three months and before that I also had a night nurse for the first six weeks with the baby. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without that level of support.

The 5 beauty products you can’t live without:

I only use clean products when it comes to beauty. Ceremonia was actually founded as a result of my own mission to replace my entire regimen to toxic-free, clean products. I realized how far behind the hair care category is in this regard, which eventually led me to start Ceremonia. My go-to hair routine today is our Aceite de Moska used together with our scalp massager, and some of my go-to skincare products include Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, the Saie Beauty Glowy Super Gel, Vintner’s Daughter’s face oil and I’m absolutely obsessed with Jones Road’s Miracle Balm!

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Your style uniform is:

Colorful Scandinavian, mixed with elegant minimalist pieces and a sense of humor. I love suits! But not traditional suits, I love to rock unconventional suits in either fun prints or unexpected materials or more fashion-forward cuts. I have a large collection of suits at home, but now with the pandemic I’ve replaced the suits for matching two-piece sets instead. Ideally pieces that open on the front for easy breastfeeding.

The song you have on repeat:

Jack Johnson, Banana Pancake

Recipe you’ve perfected:

Swedish pancakes!

Last person you texted:

My mom

What's the best advice you received when setting out to start your brand?

The best career advice I ever received was that there is no such thing as great timing, you simply have to make the timing work for you versus waiting for it to just happen. This couldn’t have been more fitting this past year with a global pandemic shaking up everyone’s plans.

What does “cool” mean to you?

A refreshing new take on something.

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