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27 Apr

Ceremonia Raises $10M in Series A Led by Sandbridge

Babba Rivera is used to moving fast — but now she’s going into overdrive.  

Ceremonia, the Latinx clean hair care brand Rivera launched in 2020, has raised $10 million to support its recent expansion to greater than 500 Sephora stores with a series A investment round led by Sandbridge Capital.

That has the buzzy brand working with an investment firm that’s proven to have a knack for large exits with Ilia (sold to the Courtin-Clarins family holding company), Youth to the People (L’Oréal) and Thom Browne (Ermenegildo Zegna). Existing Ceremonia investors Silas Capital and Female Founders Fund also re-upped through the round.

“We’re in no way chilling out,” Rivera, who leads the corporate as chief executive officer, told WWD. “The work begins now and our series A funding is coming at an ideal time to speed up our success.”

Along with constructing at Sephora, the brand is planning to open its first flagship, in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, this June. 

Ceremonia seems to have found something of a sweet spot within the crowded beauty market, zeroing in on Latinx shoppers with a wellness approach to hair care. The brand has about 20 stock keeping units made with natural ingredients procured from Latin America and freed from silicones, parabens, sulfates, phthalates and artificial colorants. 

“We someway managed to carve out a really different space for ourselves,” said Rivera, who oversees a “small, but mighty” team of 15.

Rivera, who identifies as a Swedish Latina, took a circuitous path to the hubbub of beauty. 

She was Uber’s first worker in Sweden, launching the rideshare business within the country.

“I used to be 21 and I used to be running an eyewear blog and I had form of dipped my toes into performance marketing,” Rivera said, recalling her start at Uber. “I joke that I got the job less on credentials and more on being the one person crazy enough to say, ‘Yes.’ The goal after I joined was, ‘You possibly can do whatever you would like, you only need to grow the business 20 percent week-over-week.’”

Rivera’s 4 years with Uber proved to be a formative experience — one the CEO described as “my biggest asset in constructing a beauty business.” 

Despite launching into the maw of the pandemic, Ceremonia has found its place bringing the wellness approach that’s worked so well with clean skincare to hair.

“We’re so conscious about what we eat and what we placed on our skin and the makeup we use, but when it got here to our scale and our hair, it was form of a free-for-all for all of the toxins out there,” she said. “[The market was] form of stuck on this celebrity hairstylist obsession and many of the offering within the hair space pertains to styling, which is the equivalent of makeup to your hair.”  

But Rivera said hair and hair care is so essential — to the whole lot from self-esteem to racial justice — that a recent approach resonated strongly.  

“When I would like a bit of boost of confidence, I am going to the review section,” Rivera said. “Reading our customer reviews is probably the most gratifying and fast reminder of why we do what we do.”

Now the CEO also has one other sounding board in Sandbridge founder and managing partner Ken Suslow.

“I feel almost like I got a cofounder in a way,” Rivera said of the connection for the reason that round closed. “I can text him any hour of the day and just get a pulse check for something. As a sole founder that’s super precious. It’s just truly been a partnership.”

In an announcement, Suslow noted: “Ceremonia is a purpose-driven modern hair care brand with uncommonly strong momentum and crossover appeal in a category that we discover persuasive. We’re delighted to partner with such a dynamic and authentic founder; Babba is an industry pioneer with a compelling vision to grow Ceremonia into the globally recognized leader in Latinx beauty.”

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