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The world of skin care and spa have an almost synonymous relationship as they both feature elements of treatment and relaxation. Based on this relationship, in 2000 a new line of luxury home and body cosmetics was born, modernising Eastern Authentic traditions and translating them into a meaningful rituals. This range, aptly entitled Rituals Cosmetics, has expanded into an extensive range of luxury goods ranging from body to facial care with in excess of 175 stores, not to mention four exclusive City Spas.

Ape to Gentleman recently caught up with the catalyst behind Rituals exponential growth, none other than the dynamic Raymond Cloosterman. Here is what he had to say…

EA: When we’re younger we all have of ambitions and visions of what we see ourselves doing in the future. Did you see yourself doing anything like what you are today?

RC: When I was a child I dreamed of being a professional tennis or football player. That didn’t happen… After high school I did an MBA at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. After finishing this I started a career at Unilever, where my passion and interest in well-being and personal care started.  I stayed at Unilever until 1998, and then decided to follow my dream of creating a global luxury brand, based on the passion to help people turn their daily routines into meaningful rituals.  My aim was to have 1,000 stores spread over the world.

The first 5 years were challenging, and from there we were on a roll.   The brand has grown very quickly and continues to do so.  We are opening stores all over the world and currently have sales points in 12 countries. We even have our own City Spas with an aim to open one in the UK very soon!

EA: What are you thoughts on the rise of men’s grooming over the past few years?

RC: This market is growing so fast and will continue, as it is all about the emancipation of men. We are looking after ourselves much more, and as we age we realise that we want to feel and look younger.  Men are more aware of their appearance and know what they need from their grooming products. The time when men secretly used their girlfriend’s face cream is no more, as they now want their own skin and body care products.

EA: Have you noticed any difference in the demographics of the Rituals customer, are more men buying Rituals?

RC: Rituals is unique because both men and women feel very attracted to the brand and the products. We are a unisex and uni-age brand. Our stores are chic and elegant, not too feminine.  In terms of gender split, 60% of our customers are women and 40% are men.

EA: Are there any new ‘Rituals’ you are looking to introduce to the existing range?

RC: For men we created Shaving Rituals, with our Samurai Secret shaving cream being the hero product. This cream is based on the beauty ritual of the old Japanese Samurai warriors. Our Samurai Secret shaving cream is developed for the modern warrior, for him to use before he goes to war everyday. It’s a sensational shaving cream that prevents irritated skin. A new approach to wet shaving…

Recently we introduced the Tatsu ritual, a range of body products inspired by the Japanese dragon. One of my favourite products in this range is the Ice shower.  A cooling shower gel, great to cool down after sports.

We also just launched a range of luxury wooden travel spray holders for our male Eau de Parfums. Perfect for businessmen who want to travel in style.

“My inspirations have been creative leaders with a strong vision. Think of Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks; people with a vision who create exceptional things at a strategic and creative level. The same goes for Steve Jobs who, with Apple, constantly changes all the rules in the market. They are visionaries, but are very involved in the details at the same time. Real builders.” – Raymond Cloosterman, Founder, Rituals Cosmetics

EA: Looking back on all that you have accomplished with Rituals –and all so quickly – is there anything you would have done differently?

RC: I’m extremely happy and proud with what we achieved today.  As with many new brands, we had challenges and learnings, which are a part of any journey. I have no regrets. If there is one thing that I would have done differently,  I would have created the Rituals brand much earlier.

I created Rituals when I was 35, when I had the skills and the courage to step away from a very successful corporate career at Unilever.  I had a big dream and a tiny budget.

EA: As you are a man of taste, here are a few quick fire questions so we can get better sense of the man behind the brand:

Football or Rugby? Football, Particularly FC Barcelona.

Smart or Casual? Smart casual. Chic elegant. IWC watch, Santoni shoes, Incotex trousers, bespoke shirts and suits.

Cartridge Razor or Safety-Razor? Rituals design silver razor blade (one of the few accessories for men!) with Samurai Secret shaving cream.

Your car; Saloon, SUV or Sports? Porsche Panamera for travelling and a Fiat 500 in the city.

EA: So what does Raymond Cloosterman do to relax?

RC: In the main I play sports: hockey, tennis, golf.  I’m also one of the few men that loves shopping.

I also love to go with my family (I have 4 children) to our holiday house in Knokke. This is a coastal city in Belgium (you can compare it a little bit with the Hamptons, New York).

EA: Are there any projects you are working on besides Rituals (the world of beauty)?

RC: Business wise there is so much more to do and learn. We have only just started our journey. The next decade we hope to grow the brand in many more countries and we hope that many more people will discover our products… I focus on Rituals, but with one exception. I recently joined the Board of Trustees of War Child.

EA: Finally, if there is one piece of advice you could give to anyone what would it be?

RC: If you can dream it, you can do it[1. Walt Disney].

This was the headline of the first concept presentation I gave about the Rituals brand. I even have this saying embroidered in my shirts… It’s how I live. I really believe that the dreamers of the world can make the difference. We are there to dream!

Other sayings that inspire me are “Life is what you make it” and “He who is brave, is free.”