meet the maker: rituel de fille

Three Californian sisters—all accomplished artists—dreamed up Rituel de Fille using pure pigments and natural ingredients. Over six years of meticulous formulating resulted in a range that combines old-world techniques with groundbreaking colors for something truly unique in modern makeup. Merrady Wickes met with two of the brand founders to discover more about their creative process and what it’s really like working with your family.

Can you introduce yourselves?

M: I’m Michelle Ramos,
K: And I’m Katherine Ramos.

And we’re missing one founder?

M: Yes, Caroline our sister could not be here today. There’s another sister.

First things first, am I pronouncing the brand name right? (Like ree-choo-el day fee)

M: Yes, that’s right.

And what does that mean?

M: It means ‘Girl Ritual’ in French.

I love that.  Who thought of ‘Girl Ritual’?

K: We’d gone through a lot of names originally, but ended up…I don’t know…it kind of came out organically from the three of us after a lot of iteration. We wanted to pick something that was evocative, but not super literal regarding the magical potion making thing. It felt like it pointed towards ceremony and ritual, but wasn’t too on the nose.

I love it. I think everyone pronounces it wrong, but still loves it. Not all of us took French.

I’d love to know more about where you’re from. Did you grow up in California?

K: Caroline and I grew up in San Diego County.
M: And I grew up in the Bay area. So we are technically sisters on a married scale, in that I married their brother. So two blood sisters. I’m the third sister that came in through marriage.

Oh! I did not know that.

M: Exactly. Because we don’t even feel that there’s a boundary there. The three of us clicked since the minute I met Ryan. It’s been twelve years ago? And we just started the line five or six years ago?
K: 2014?

M: We had the sister bond going from minute one. It just made sense.

 

“THERE WERE DEFINITELY A LOT OF LATE NIGHTS WHERE WE THOUGHT, MAYBE THIS ISN’T POSSIBLE. THERE’S A REASON PEOPLE DON’T FORMULATE LIKE THIS.”

 

So how soon—once you had the sister bond—how soon did you know you wanted to work on something together? When did that come to fruition?

M: Well Caroline and I worked together in the industry for awhile, so she and I already had that working relationship going. And then Katherine has always been an incredible artist and was inspired by color.

K: Pigment history is really more fascinating to me. I’d been doing a lot of recreational research, like people do [laughs], on these really fascinating ingredient histories.The concept on my end eventually came out of that. I know Caroline and I had been talking about starting a makeup line since she was twelve years old.

M: Every makeup artist wants to start their own line, but it’s almost impossible to do. Caroline and I would talk about it just in a phantom way as well. And it just kind of happened. It made sense.

K: It all came together really naturally.

Speaking of natural…the line is 99% natural. Is that something that was important to you in creating it?

K: It was. We came to natural a little bit sideways in that a lot of the original interest in it was that natural ingredients are a lot more storied and interesting than synthetic ingredients. Synthetic ingredients just didn’t have as much draw for us. Then it became more and more important as we realized there weren’t other lines doing really dense pigmentation within naturals. It felt like a real need, and really interesting to us as a challenge.

Let’s talk about that challenge. I mean, the colors that you have. There are rich emerald greens, there are deep reds, there are rich blues. I mean…how?

M: A lot of trial and error. As artists we have such a vision, then we see what our constraints are. So it’s hard to dial back our own creativity.

Because there are no synthetic pigments.

M: No. None.

K: From when we first started formulating until we actually went to market, it was about six years I think?

So just quick. Six years. Done. [laughs]

K: There were definitely a lot of late nights where we thought, maybe this isn’t possible. There’s a reason people don’t formulate like this. We knew we wanted to hit on really bright, vibrant, bold color. And the 99% natural and natural pigment were really important to us.

M: And being artists, the wear is crucial. Two of us being on set all the time, we know what products do well under lights, or everyday wear. As artists we didn’t want to slap our names on something that didn’t wear well. So we had almost the biggest gauntlet ahead of us. It had to wear well, look great, be different, and be natural. That was a lot of goals to meet.

As a makeup artist myself, I’ve always felt like, these are the products I use on myself, and these are the products I use in my kit. And never the twain shall meet. You couldn’t use your everyday products in your kit.

I think that it’s just in the last year or two that there’s a few brands that do hold up and look beautiful. People love seeing Rituel de Fille in a kit. They’re like, “What is that??” And they always steal it. They want to keep it. I think that’s the best compliment when someone steals something from your kit.

M: We have a lot of professional makeup artists that are just obsessed and constantly emailing us for more and love what we’re doing. That for me is one of our biggest compliments. To get that from the big pros that really want our products in their kits and on big celebrities. It’s cool.

 

“IT HAD TO WEAR WELL, LOOK GREAT, BE DIFFERENT, AND BE NATURAL.”


So I have three sisters, and I would never dream of starting a business with them. I would die. [laughs] I love them so much. But, the three of you, you’re family. Does it just work? Does it just flow? What’s the dynamic, and what do you each contribute?

K: I would say it’s been absolutely incredible. I know I couldn’t hope for better business partners. I mean, I’ve known Caroline since she was born, and I’ve known Michelle for years and years and years. We’ve all been so close for such a long time. Learning to work with each other as professionals, and acknowledging that part of ourselves, outside of ourselves as emotional people. Divorcing it from the family side of it was an interesting learning process in terms of figuring out how to actually work together. But it’s been amazing. Knowing that we can really support each other.

M: Yeah, it really works in our favor. Everybody has personal things that go on in their lives at x, y, and z points in time. When you’re running a business or starting a business, you don’t really have much leeway to bounce off if you have a personal issue. But with the three sisters, the minute one of us has something going on in our personal lives, the other two ramp up and take over. There’s no, “Ok, when are you gonna be back? We need you back.” We just say, “You’re going through something. Get back in when you can.” We all cover for each other, and it always happens at different times, so it’s really been the most supportive relationship. I don’t think we could do it if we weren’t family because we can support each other so much.

A built in support system. That’s really lovely.

M: We really understand and get it, we don’t have to explain it to each other. Because we already know the situation anyway. We all know what’s going on in each other’s lives 24/7. We don’t even have to ask for the time if we need it. It really has been a great experience so far.

If you haven’t seen the Rituel De Fille line, it’s got this really unusual aesthetic. In general, but  especially in the makeup world. It’s a little magical and enchanting, a little dark. Where did that come from and who brought that about?

K: It ended up being the overlap of all three of our aesthetics. The three of us all have very different tastes. All of the imagery and the color palette and the packaging—everything is sort of where we all overlap and find a balance between what we all love.

Is that something that you design?

K: I design the actual packaging, but it’s all very collaborative. We do a lot of brainstorming together.

M: Lots of rounds of notes.

K: It’s great. We end up in such a better place at the end of it.

M: We always say Rituel de Fille is born out of where the three of us meet in the middle. If Katherine had a line, it wouldn’t be this. If I had a line, it wouldn’t be this. If Caroline had a line, it wouldn’t be this. This is sort of the middle zone where we all collaborate and we all somehow usually land on the same concept, color, and naming process almost instantaneously. We’re all so aligned when it comes to the vision of the brand. When we stumble is when we take a step back and go, maybe this isn’t what we should be doing right now because usually it’s very easy for us.

K: When we stay true it does come really easily a lot of the time.

So it’s just flowing. That’s when you know you’ve hit on something. That’s great. Rare actually.

You touched on the naming process. The names of your products are so unusual and special. Names like Anthelion, and Viscera, and Seven Sisters. They’re really fun. Who names the products, and do you guys have any favorites?

K: It’s really, again, a very collaborative process. Any time we’re releasing new colors we usually have some kind of very specific theme that we’re touching on. Like Viscera was part of the Feral collection which was Viscera, Strange Creature, and Prey, which were all kind of this winter predator theme.

As one does.

K: [laughs] Of course.

M: Sometimes they’re more obscure themes, but that’s why we’re interesting.

K: And then with the Rare Light Luminizers, all of those, the original three, were named specifically for perception of light phenomena. So we generally try to go into things with a real meaning behind them, and create from there in a way that makes sense within the greater line as well as that specific release.

M: We really are a big fan of telling a story all the way through. We don’t just drop things midway. We definitely get the concept, build all of the colors, imagery, and naming around the concept. Katherine’s an amazing writer so she’ll write the copy for the concept. And Caroline and I are the makeup artists. Then we all obviously give notes on every portion of the process. But we each bring such a vision that when it aligns, it becomes a big story all the way through.

 

“WE WANT WOMEN TO FEEL EMPOWERED BY OUR MAKEUP AND TRY NEW THINGS.”

 

With your vision and storytelling, your Instagram feed is one of my favorites. It’s so fun. Something i notice is that I’ll see a lipstick on an eye, or a highlighter on the lips. Everything seems very multi-use. Is that..I mean is it safe to put it everywhere?

M: With our line for sure everything is safe to put everywhere. But also just as artists, all three of us being artists, we’ve always been outside the boundaries in that way. People sometimes get very constricted to use this brush for the crease of your eye, or apply the smoky eye just like this, and we want women to feel empowered by our makeup and try new things. Give it a shot with your fingers. See if you like the lipstick on your eye. Don’t feel weighed down by what you’re supposed to do. We’ve created such a variety of colors. You can mix and match, you can layer, you can put it where you want. There are no rules—just go for it. Feel like your own goddess and boss. You don’t have to follow the trends.

Yes please. I’d love to be a goddess and boss.

M: We want to inspire women to do the ritual side of makeup, but also do it in your own way and feel good about yourself.

Speaking of rituals and makeup, is that something that was passed down to you by someone in your life, or something you discovered on your own?

K: Hmmm…I mean I would say that from early on our mom definitely has. She’s a fine artist, too, and and has always loved special packaging and the application process. So i definitely think Caroline and I both had a really, really strong love of beautiful items from a very young age. And that fascination continued into adulthood obviously. I know Michelle, you’ve been really passionate about makeup for a very long time, too.

M: I fell into the industry about 20 years ago. I’ve been around it for so long, and seen so many things come through. So to be able to do my own thing with my girls, and just do what we think is beautiful has been a great, great process.

I’d like to ask, I think with having your own business, being so hands on—you’re still working makeup artists, Michelle, you’re a mom, you guys have family things going on. What keeps you sane, and what do you do for self care? [laughs] Or do you?

M: Self care for sisters…we can vent very easily to each other about what might be going on either in our personal lives or within the business, because things can get very difficult sometimes. So I think that it’s such a safe place for all three of us. There’s no boss figure like, “I hope they don’t find out.” We can all just be super honest with each other. It allows for a very easy working environment. It takes the stress down probably a lot in that way.

K: Yeah. Exactly. There’s always a lot. Knowing there is that support and that flexibility is really big. I think for all three of us, I mean—this is definitely for me the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on, and the most all-consuming in a way. But it also feels like purpose in a really satisfying way. It’s not drudgery. It doesn’t feel like going to work every day. It’s the thing that I feel like I’m supposed to be doing with my time. It’s really satisfying in a way that nothing else I’ve ever done has been.

I love that. I think you feel that passion in the brand.

M: We’re all so inspired by it. Even to this day. It’s always like, “I wonder what’s gonna happen today.” There are always things happening. It’s really fun for the three of us because we celebrate together. When things go right we can all be together and have a glass of wine.

 

“YOU CAN MIX AND MATCH, YOU CAN LAYER, YOU CAN PUT IT WHERE YOU WANT. THERE ARE NO RULES—JUST GO FOR IT. FEEL LIKE YOUR OWN GODDESS AND BOSS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE TRENDS.”

 

Can I be your sister? [laughs]

M: It’s always a camaraderie. It makes it a lot easier to take it on. And also if one person is struggling for any reason, the other two, like i said, take it on. No matter what the business is always running full speed ahead. It’s just a matter of what configuration it’s running in. Whether it’s two or three of us all at the same time.

What’s in the works for Rituel de Fille? Anything you can tell us or is it “mum’s the word”?

K: We have two really exciting Rare Light Luminizers that are coming out for summer (2017). They’re really amazing actually.

M: The shades are really unique.

K: We created all the Rare Light Luminizers that we have now to have a subtle, pretty color shift. These are much more vibrant. Much more extreme. They’re really, really striking opalescent shades that are inspired by the sun and moon.

M: Always gotta have a story!

K: So the shades are Lunaris, which is a really stunning blue-violet shift, and Solaris which is sort of a…

M: …warm red peachy shift.

K: And they’re both just stunning on everyone. They’re a little more sheer in the base color than our existing shades, so they wear on anyone.

I love that. I bet they’d be pretty over a smoky eye or something. I’m already plotting to buy them.

M: We shot content with them on the eyes and the lips. You can do a whole lot. They’re really fun.

Well guys, I’m so grateful that you made it today. Thank you so much for chatting with me.

K: Thank you

M: Thanks for having us

 

Shop all Rituel de Fille, here.