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“I am a man of rituals. I was brought up with the notion that small things matter.” – Raymond Cloosterman

A Dutch magazine named you Mr. Perfect, American Vanity Fair profiled you as the Dutch version of James Bond. Quite some shoes you have to fill. How perfect are you in real life?
Pretty perfect, if you ask me (laughs out loud). Ask my wife the same question and you’ll get a very different answer I’m afraid. It’s very flattering indeed but nobody’s perfect. If anything I should be called Mr. Perfectionist. When you’re building a global brand like Rituals you have to strive for perfection: all the way, every day. And you have to do that with passion and a healthy dose of obsession. That is how I see it, anyway. At Rituals we love creating beautiful things that help change everyday routines into special rituals. But really, it all has to add up: the perfumes, the products, the designs, the stores, the service, and the experience. If we can achieve all that and keep up with it, our mission is successful.

How important is appearance for you?
Appearance is important to me, but it isn’t everything. I like to dress well and look good, surely. And wearing that new suit does give me a touch of extra confidence. But appearance is so much more than only physical traits. It is what someone radiates. I am naturally drawn to people who are optimistic and creative because they literally energize me. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is what’s on the inside.  But  it never hurts to make a great impression with your appearance.

Where do you actually find inspiration to fuel your creativity?
I find inspiration in travelling as well as exploring other cultures, meeting new people and visiting retail shops in every corner of the world. I am probably one of the few guys out there who actually likes to go shopping. Which is in fact an important part of my job; to recognize what people like and what is going on trend wise. To stay on top I have to understand, better than anyone else,  what our customers want. And the best part of my job is that I am able to realise this with a team of very talented people.

Say, you launch a new ritual like Laughing Buddha. Where do you begin and how do you arrive at the end result?
The majority of our products is inspired by ancient eastern rituals. When we discover a new ritual that we feel is worth sharing with people, we start extensively researching every aspect. Which ingredients did they use and why? How did they go about their routines? And so forth. We then introduce these ingredients to our perfumers. Together we translate this into a modern range of luxury products.

But we also get motivated by modern times. For instance we realised that people spend a great amount of time and money on picking and designing a new kitchen and then purchase a not so great looking supermarket hand soap, which gets hastily thrown in a cabinet when friends visit. We felt we could do better and we did. By designing an elegant range of products that do not look out of place on your kitchen counter.

As the creative force behind the brand you must have a set of rituals you follow yourself. Care to name a few?
I am a man of rituals. I was brought up with the notion that small things matter. So I practice the everyday rituals most people do: shaving, my cup of Earl Grey in the morning, a relaxing bath from time to time and I always drink a glass of white wine when I come home from work. On a more spiritual level when we travel abroad with the family, we always try to find an old church somewhere to light a candle for someone. It is a small moment of reflection; to be grateful for what we have and to realise what we have to give.

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The RITUALS philosophy is focused on relaxation and taking a step back to enjoy the little things in life. Do you actually practice what you preach?
I have to admit, this one hits close to home. We are currently working very hard to further expand the brand into new territories, which means new countries and possibly even new continents. You can imagine that I have an overloaded schedule right now that can be best compared to a high speed train moving at maximum capacity. Slowing it down is near to impossible. So yes, there is always room for improvement. And no, I haven’t quite mastered the art of practicing what I preach, just yet. But I learn and strive every day to balance things better.

Signature fragrances are a critical success factor for the brand. How important is scent for you personally?
Scent is very important to me. How couldn’t it be, it is such an amazing sense. It can transport you back to places and times in your childhood or help you remember and relive special moments in your life, just like music does and I am a lover of music too. And let’s be honest, we all try to avoid places with an awkward smell. On the other hand we start feeling very comfortable when a fragrance is appealing.  Personally, I never leave home without wearing some perfume and I alternate my three favourite fragrances, depending on mood and occasion. They range from sporty and spicy to a classic fragrance that resembles cologne.

The ultimate way for you to relax would be?
I relax with a glass of good wine by the fireplace in the company of friends, watching a movie on the big screen in a dark cinema and of course visiting our house in Knokke by the sea. The drive up there is only one and a half hours, but I find myself in a completely different world.

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All RITUALS products are centered on authentic and ancient routines from the Far East. What was it that made you decide to build your brand on the roots of Asian practices and rituals?
People all over the world are living life in the fast lane, doing things on autopilot, so I decided that I wanted to change that by transforming mundane routines into more meaningful moments. In practice that meant that I wanted to reinvent ordinary products like shower gels and shaving foams into something really special. I had worked in the industry for over 15 years and going out on my own was my one shot at changing the rules and doing things differently. Instead of moving full throttle forward I decided it would be best to research, look around and take a step back to nourish inspiration. I traveled and realised that in the western world we overlook the importance of past practices; we thrive on innovation and never look back. Ancient eastern rituals have an opposite approach and I understood that I had found my niche.

Your favourite holiday destination?
We try to visit many different places in the world with our kids and every journey is different and special in its own right, so I honestly can’t pinpoint one single destination. Our best holiday memories range from climbing and hiking in the mountains to travelling around Thailand and sleeping in little palm tree houses on a lake.

Your favourite city in the world
I prefer dynamic places like Tokyo, Bangkok, Paris and Barcelona. But New York takes the cake every time. The first time I landed in NY was 15 years ago and it was a decisive moment for starting my RITUALS journey. I walked for days; window shopped for hours, took it all in and came back with lots of energy and a final decision. I had to give it a go. Opening our RITUALS store in Soho last November was a major personal highlight. I remember looking through the window of the Fresh company 15 years ago, in total awe and admiration of this cosmetics brand. And now we’re located next door. Yes, that’s a big thing for me.

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Anything on your bucket list?
I think I started living this “try-before-you-die” concept long before it was called the bucket list. For 25 years now I’ve set myself a goal each year to have at least one “once in a lifetime” experience. So far I have run marathons, did skydiving, bungee jumping and went nature hiking in the middle of nowhere, just to name a few. Still on the list are, but I don’t know if I’ll ever make it, learning to kite-surf before getting too old, helicopter skiing in Canada and taking lessons at Nick Bolletieri’s tennis school to practice a double handed back hand, 20 years too late.

Best Book top 3
I don’t read a lot of books anymore but I found these recent reads very inspiring: Steve Jobs, the biography, Howard Schultz and Mr. Amazon by Brad Stone

Best moment of my life…
was getting married to my wife Colette and starting a family together.

You’re all time favourite quote
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” by Walt Disney. I think that it is our ability to dream and our determination to follow our dreams that make the difference for a creative entrepreneur. I have various quotes that mean something to me embroidered onto my shirt in a secret place. Call it a ritual if you like. I started doing this in 2000 to motivate me in challenging times and I still do it today.

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I don’t like people who are…
Jealous, judgmental, negative and pessimistic.

Your positive character traits
Dreamer, creative, go-getter, optimist.

Your not so positive character traits
Impatient, unstoppable, lazy.

People you admire top 3 and reason why
My wife Colette, my mother, and inspirational people like Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz. I admire people who have dreams and a vision, who lead through inspiration but who are also focused on getting every detail right.

Name one event that changed your life
I was 9 years old when my father tragically lost his life in a car accident. This made a huge impact on me. I realised at a young age that life is precious and that it may suddenly end at any given moment. So you owe it to yourself to make the most of it, and to do it now while you still can. And you owe it to yourself to enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were big. Ever since, I take nothing for granted and I live more in the present. The whole experience is an important driver in my work for RITUALS.

Do you believe in reincarnation?
No, I don’t. I believe in getting the most out of this life and I believe in leaving the planet a little better than how I found it. Everyone can contribute whether it is by building a business or caring for others.

What is your definition of success?
The definition of success for me is being happy, living a fulfilling life and doing something positive with your talents. Because everybody has a talent for something.

How closely are you involved with the development of new products and rituals?
We have a strong team of people working in our innovation department and I am very much involved because it is one of my favourite aspects in my job: help creating and designing products and stores. I work passionately for RITUALS and for all the people who believe in it, trying  to make a difference with special products and experiences. I know we are not changing the world but I’d like to believe we contribute by making a difference in the industry.

Your personal favourite RITUALS product: you may only pick one…
That has to be Fujiyama (currently known by the name of Happy Buddha) shower foam. This is the one product that launched it all; it kept us alive in the first years when not all went smoothly. The shower foam embodies our unique philosophy.  It was a reinvention of the mainstream shower gel into a never before seen shower foam explosion with an addictive fragrance.

Where will RITUALS ideally be in 5 years and 10 years time?
Building a brand often takes a lifetime. We still have a long way to go and many things to learn in a world that changes frighteningly fast. I hope in 25 years the whole world has discovered our beautiful brand. And I hope that you will find us on every street corner in luxury malls and department stores from the Far East to South America.

This post is also available in: Dutch Spanish French

14 Comments

  • August 19, 2014 Reply

    Thea

    Did not wait for the perfect moment and joined Rituals Germany!

  • September 1, 2014 Reply

    Fred

    Absolute a very nice story to read, and Rituals is a gift that i take with me to all my friends over the whole world , australia, austria and germany, all my friends love it

  • September 1, 2014 Reply

    Dave Ghysels

    Nice one to read! inspiring 🙂

  • September 3, 2014 Reply

    Rachel

    Massive Rituals fan, especially the candle range, Jasmine Dream is my all time favourite candle x
    http://www.beautyqueenuk.co.uk

  • September 3, 2014 Reply

    Angelika

    Ich liebe diese Düfte, immer wenn ich in der City bin und am Ritualsstore vorbei komme muss ich eine Nase voll mit nehmen.

  • September 3, 2014 Reply

    Ramona

    Very inspiring to read. During my college years I worked for Rituals and since that time I’m even a Bigger FAN then before, sometimes my house looks like a Rituals store 🙂

  • September 3, 2014 Reply

    John

    I discovered your products in july in your city2 shop (amazing team). I travel the world and using your products extend the good feeling and are relaxing after a busy day in the office. It seems to be nice working with inspiring and creative team. Do you hire managers? 🙂

  • September 4, 2014 Reply

    Jacqueline

    Greatful and honored to be a part of the Rituals family in Germany. Thank you for inspiring me to enjoy the moment once again, with this interview, Raymond.

  • September 4, 2014 Reply

    Carolyn Turner

    Last October I had Spinal surgery to remove a relatively benign tumor. It is called that because they can grow back but stay within the spine and brain. I took lots of ritual products into hospital with me which I found very comfortable. I am just about to embark in a trip to the Caribbean which I promised myself if I came through without being paralysed . So next week am off!! With lots of Ritual products with me .

  • September 4, 2014 Reply

    Sema Izci

    Inspiring and genius thats what I think about the story of R I T U A L S . . .
    I use it now for 13 years,It starts with the Fujiyama and Its still the one what I use =)

    Keep going like this and everybody in the whole wide world knows the brand and love it!

  • September 4, 2014 Reply

    Wouter Vosmeer

    Hi Raymond,
    Always following Rituals with special interest. It is time for you guys to open a shop here in Toronto. When I visit family and friends in the Netherlands I always load myself up with The Samurai Secret Cream, but it is so heavy

  • September 5, 2014 Reply

    Sylvie

    Proud to be a Belgian :-)! Congratulations to “Mister Rituals” and his team!
    You made your Dream come truth, not only for You, but also for lots of people discovering the relaxing World of Rituals to. ThanxX, and keep on creating with Passion! Good luck for all of You.

    Ps. Omdat ‘passie’ aanstekelijk kan werken, maakte ik even mijn letterwoord voor RITUALS als sterk merk dat voor mij alleszins staat voor Respect, Integriteit, Toewijding, voor U en voor Anderen, met Liefde en de kracht van eenvoud, Simplicity. Amen 😉

  • September 8, 2014 Reply

    INGRID

    Inspirerende tekst, om vaker bij stil te staan.
    De producten van Rituals zijn al net zo en ook de vormgeving en kleur gebruik.

  • September 9, 2014 Reply

    Nathalie

    Addicted to Rituals, thank you to a good friend with a great birthday gift a few years ago! Happy to share and to offer Rituals to friends, last one went back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! Spread the joy!

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