Looking to ancient traditions for inspiration and combining them with a bit of creative modern magic, the Rituals brand is built on the foundation of turning life’s every day tasks into sensuous, enjoyable experiences – from your morning shower to washing the dishes, as founder Raymond Cloosterman explains …
What did you do before setting up Rituals?
I was working with Unilever in operational jobs, running companies then I was moved to a new business side of the company in Brussels. I decided the best way to bring back new ideas was to go on a journey of discovery – I went around the world meeting the most exciting people in the most interesting places and came back full of energy and ideas, so I decided to resign and start Rituals – some of those original ideas are still the foundation of the brand today.
Which ideas are still part of it?
Incorporating home and skincare – the home is more like our second skin these days so I wanted to combine the design for home and body – from Precious skincare to fragrance sticks to teas and kitchen cosmetics (designer washing-up liquid). My second insight was to create a luxury brand with chic and elegant products but to try to keep the prices accessible and fair; and my third idea which is at the heart of Rituals was to help people enjoy the little things in life, there is a growing need to enjoy those moments and that is our passion.
What sets your products apart from other lifestyle brands?
We always start with ancient rituals rather than a laboratory and we always look for interesting stories. We have a Hammam range for your own bathroom with the first shower mud in the world; and precious mineral make-up which are the first products to be enriched with ruby, sapphire and amethyst – Cleopatra used precious stones in her make-up so a friend of mine who is a doctor of Chinese medicine helped me to create the precious mineral line. People come to the brand and our shops because they like the way it looks, but they come back because of the perfumes which are very subtle and natural and special.
The products take a lot of inspiration from Eastern rituals – why is that?
When I started with the idea of changing routines into rituals I needed to go somewhere that they really value rituals. In the West we have a more throw-away attitude but in Eastern cultures there is a lot more respect for ancient rituals, and they lead you to natural ingredients that have been used for centuries and which we re-create for today!
Which authentic elements have your retained?
The ingredients and the stories: we try to capture the story and bring it alive by combining authentic ingredients with modern technology. For example we have a shaving cream called Samurai Secret, which is inspired by the tradition of Samurai warriors before battle. We basically created a shaving foam without water, where there is always a little cream between your skin and the razor so there is no irritation and all the guys come back for it again and again!
Do you have a favourite product?
I always start my day with our Fujiama foaming shower gel – it’s based on a spiritual journey at Mount Fuji – I have used it for 10 years and it never gets boring. I also use the Hammam fragrance and the Samurai Secrets shaving cream … but I am not objective I am afraid, I use them a lot! … But then that’s how we develop the products, we look to ourselves and our friends – we test them on ourselves, not on animals, and we are our toughest jury.
Setting up a business can be stressful, what do you do to relax?!
I am afraid we work very hard most of the time, but it gives me a lot of energy – it is my passion and it’s very close to my heart so it doesn’t feel like work. To relax though, I like sport and travelling and dinner with friends.
What’s been the strangest experience about working in the beauty industry?
Nothing strange as such but every where you go is a new experience and every time you move to a new country to build the brand you submerge into a new culture which keeps you very humble. You are established in one country, and then you go somewhere else and no one knows you. We are a brand that’s all about discovery – the bad news is it always takes a few years for people to discover us, the good news is that when they do the bond is so strong they almost become like friends of the family.
You seem to travel a lot, is it all work or some of it pleasure as well?
A lot of it is work – we have four kids at home and my wife has her own company as well. If we have a minute to spare then we try to get away all together – our last beautiful trip was to Thailand. We had a 12 hour train journey with the children, then slept on a lake in floating beds and the next day were in a five star hotel – you need to enjoy both sides.
What advice would you give those on the quest for a happy lifestyle?
To try to enjoy the little things in life – it doesn’t have anything to do with money, happiness is in the details; I truly believe that. Treat yourself sometimes and be more aware when you do things like brushing your teeth or having a shower – that’s important. I suppose in a sentence – cherish the moment!
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