Babba Canales Rivera, Founder, ByBabba


“I’m from the south of Sweden, and people in Sweden have such a healthy view of work—when I go back there, everyone is out of the office and on their way home at 3PM. I wanted to create a culture [here] that’s more like that—more modern and something that could become a home for tomorrow’s creatives. I’ve worked at Uber and Away, and I think what I learned during those years is that we’re in this shift between the old school way of managing people and this new wave of people entering the workforce whose minds work very differently. That’s why so many people are going freelance now. I saw an opportunity for a new type of agency model that was more tailored for direct-to-consumer brands. When I started my own company, I didn’t know what to expect—I was like, maybe we’ll just do consulting, but then it turned into a brand marketing agency called ByBabba. We celebrated one year in mid-May, and it felt like a huge milestone. I think on one hand I want to keep it small because it feels like family. But then I think we are needed in a bigger capacity. We always have a strong emphasis on diversity, and I’m realizing now that that’s unique, which is crazy. It was actually really impressive working with Glossier on the Scandinavian launch because diversity is such a fundamental part of the company—in other companies, you hire like one person of color to put a bandage on your problem. It was refreshing from a client, because oftentimes it’s us pushing that agenda. Now I’m like, ‘We should open an office in Stockholm, we should open an office in LA. What about London? What about Copenhagen?’ I’m a crazy ambitious person, and my head is never sleeping. It’s a startup mentality—doing more with less.

I’m obsessed with my deodorant—I’m not sure if you can get it in the US, but c/o Gerd is the best. It doesn’t have any scent, and you will never sweat or smell. I also use this Pure Effect Clothing Mist, which is like a deodorant for clothes. Instead of doing laundry all the time, from a sustainability perspective, sometimes you just need to get the smell out. I combine Body Hero and Tata Harper Body Oil because I’m so dry. This body oil from Bastide smells so good—I feel like a French princess when I wear it. If I do wear fragrance, I love Le Labo—I have a bunch of them. I would say I wear Santal 33, Noir 29 and this one from Atelier Cologne, which is grapefruit and smells so clean. I use Santal when I travel—I feel like in New York you can’t wear Santal because everyone has it. I use mainly the grapefruit one in the summer, and then Noir when it’s fall and winter.

I’ve started investing a lot in skincare lately because I realized over the past two years that if I just have a really good skincare routine I don’t have to wear makeup. I was kind of blown away. I’ve basically moved completely to natural products, except for makeup. I’m obsessed with Tata Harper. They’re not great for traveling because they’re really heavy, but I travel with the serum and Retinol Face Oil anyway because I’m obsessed. Those two together have changed my skin. I have the Tata Harper Clarifying cleanser, and I cleanse only at night. Then I usually do the serum and then the retinol. This winter I was super dry, so I was using a super rich cream, but I can only do that at night. I feel like the creams end up on top of my skin, so I almost feel like I’m sweating underneath it—like, I don’t feel like my skin is breathing. With oils and serums, I really feel like it goes to the source. I started using Vintner’s Daughter, and it’s the most expensive oil on Earth I think, but it’s actually so good. Sometimes when I’m traveling and I don’t want to bring the two Tata Harpers, I just take this one. In the morning, I just wash with water, put on serum and retinol again, and then use my favorite eye cream. It has diamond dust in it, and it feels almost like a highlighter. On the weekends if I’m not wearing any makeup, just wearing that is enough.

The Tata Harper masks I use the most are the Clarifying and Resurfacing ones, but I have them all. Clarifying is fun because it’s green, and you really feel exfoliated. The Resurfacing Mask doesn’t feel as fun on—it’s just gel—but it really brings out a glow. I usually use that before going out, and the Clarifying one on Sundays for a self-care day. I have the Purifying Mask too, and it’s clay—it feels really good after, but when it’s on you get really dry. I like the Gold Black Pearl Eye Masks for Sunday self-care too—those are Korean, the K-beauty stuff. I have two aestheticians, and they’re very different. I’m in the process of laser hair removal, and Glow Spa in FiDi has all these machines and things. What’s nice is that everything is pretty quick, in and out—it’s not like a two-hour experience, so it’s something I end up doing pretty frequently. Every time I’m there I’m like, ‘Ooh, let’s do a Silk Peel,’ which is like a vacuum clean of my pores. And then I do the hydration treatments because I have pretty dry skin. I go to the other aesthetician to totally recharge. She combines technology with essential oils, and custom-makes a serum once you’re there—a mix of high-tech and natural stuff. It’s a face massage, a body stretch, essential oils, and lighting therapy. I barely want to say it because she’s so fully booked already, but her name is Eileen, and her studio is called Tulura—it’s in Tribeca, super close to my office. Because I have such a hard time planning in advance, I’m always on her last-minute waitlist. If she gets a cancelation, I’m there.

Since I don’t use foundation, it’s really nice to have a good concealer. This one is from Nars, the Radiant Creamy Concealer. I never liked concealers because I always felt like they were too thick, but this one is pretty liquid. In the wintertime when I feel really pale or uneven, I do the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint. Usually I just do a creamy cheek tint from Tata Harper. They come in these little pots—I have one in each bag for touch-ups during the day. It gives a little color to the face, and feels like you’re just flushing a little bit. Something I recently learned is to brush it out, even though it’s creamy, to soften it and blend it in. The brush I use is kind of flat, and I think it’s a Chanel foundation brush, actually. When I don’t do the creamy blusher, like when I’m going out and I wear the tinted moisturizer, then I do this blusher from Chanel. This color, Evening Beige, is so pretty—it’s a little bit coral-y and a little bit sheer. I do it high on my cheeks, and I use the Chanel Blush Brush, which is really soft. I use Haloscope all day every day. I use Quartz, but I’ve had Moonstone too. I eat this up. I’m also obsessed with the Glossier Lidstar in Cub, and I use it on my brow bone almost as a highlighter—so, Lidstar not on the lid. [Laughs] Then I use Boy Brow in Brown. I’m running really low on it, so I started using this one that I already had, Gimme Brow. It’s not as good, but it does the job. Lash Slick is the best—I think this is my second one since it launched. On the lips, I’m obsessed with this guy, but I don’t know if they sell it in the US. It’s the Sensai Cellular Performance Total Lip Treatment—it’s so good, just moisturizing. I do a little bit of Chanel No. 95 [Ed. note: discontinued] like a stain, and then I put the Sensai on to blend it out. I like the Verso Lip Serum because I can take this little guy with me in my purse. Do you know Verso? Also Swedish. I sometimes do a bright red—I have the Chanel Arthur lipstick, and I have three of them in different handbags for when I go out.

For hair, I have these guys from Bjorn Axen. I have their saltwater spray in my bag. I also do Rahua Enchanted Island, which is another salt spray but feels different. These two are both natural. I feel like the Bjorn one is stronger and has more texture, so I only do it on the lengths—I use the Rahua one on the rest of my hair now that it’s so short. I don’t travel with both—I just take the Bjorn small one, and sparse it out a little bit. In the shower, I use the Aesop Volumising Shampoo and Conditioner. I blow dry it a little bit, and then let the rest air dry. Actually, sometimes if it gets really frizzy on the top, I’ll take a little bit with a hair straightener, just some parts, to calm it down and control the waves. [My dog] Blue uses Aesop too. She smells really good—people always compliment her on that."

—as told to ITG

Babba Canales Rivera photographed in New York by Tom Newton on June 28, 2018.