The power of two

Lifestyle label Rituals and airline KLM, two Dutch companies with a global outlook, have joined commercial and creative forces to create an inflight-exclusive range of cosmetics. Speaking to Hannah Lewis at the launch earlier this month, CEOs Raymond Cloosterman and Pieter Elbers were clear about one thing: this is just the start of a beautiful friendship.

The famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was the lustrous setting for the launch of a pioneering partnership between lifestyle label Rituals and airline KLM earlier this month.

Embracing the appeal of the travel retail-exclusive, the collaboration will begin with an inflight-only range of cosmetics.

The two brands, both avowedly Dutch yet decidedly international, have worked together closely on the selection, which features products from a new Rituals range: the Amsterdam Collection.

The launch at the Rijksmuseum, of which both companies are sponsors, was a display of the importance that the companies give to the partnership. And to travel retail. For while this collaboration will extend beyond the shelves of duty free, it is inspired by travel and aimed at the traveller.

The Amsterdam Collection, from scent to packaging, reflects the coming together of East and West. This was represented at the launch by a backdrop of Dutch tulips and Japanese yuzu, two of the main ingredients of the fragrance.

Francine Hijmans, an expert from the Rijksmuseum, opened the event with an explanation of the concept behind the packaging. Its blue and white design was inspired by The Lid Vase, an example of Delft Blue pottery from circa 1700. Delft Blue is a historic style of ceramics that emerged after the Dutch exploration of Asia; it was the nation’s interpretation of coveted Chinese porcelain.

Rituals CEO Raymond Cloosterman and KLM CEO Pieter Elbers then took to the stage to introduce the collection as well as the wider partnership. It is based, they explained, on shared values and a shared desire to improve the passenger experience.

Next came a striking modern dance performance representing the coming together of East and West, through which the design of the packaging was revealed.

Rituals CEO Raymond Cloosterman (left) and KLM CEO Pieter Elbers announced the new partnership between their two companies in Amsterdam, at a special event attended by The Moodie Davitt Report.

The Moodie Davitt Report was on location as the sole international media in attendance. We spoke with the two CEOs about the creation of the Amsterdam Collection, and how a chance cup of coffee marked the start of this dynamic partnership.

The Moodie Davitt Report: What brought Rituals and KLM together?

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers: We ran into each other by chance at a business event and decided to have a cup of coffee together. We had an initial discussion, exchanged business ideas and so on, and we concluded that we could do something together. That was the start of it, and from there we developed the product which is here today.

How do the two companies complement each other?

Elbers: I think there are a lot of similarities between our companies. We both operate internationally, we both put a lot of emphasis on our customer experience, hoping to give our customers an experience that lasts for a while in their minds.

Clearly the experience and the knowledge of Rituals when it comes to making quality products was very appealing to us. And our international customer base and international exposure is appealing for Rituals. And we both share a Dutch history and a Dutch connection and with that we have a wonderful match.

Rituals CEO Raymond Cloosterman: There are a lot of complementary elements. We’re both international. We’re both into giving people a wonderful experience. We’re both offering top level products. So if you look at this and you look at the company values, which are quite similar, it’s a very good base from which to start working together.

The limited-edition collection will be available in KLM’s amenity sets.

How did you go about creating the collection?

Cloosterman: When we decided to work together, we wanted to create something very special for this occasion, so we went back to the drawing board and started to look for ancient stories.

We ended up here in the Rijksmuseum (partly because we are both sponsors), and we thought, let’s go back to the 17th century, where ancient Asia met old Europe at the beginning of a very prosperous century for the Netherlands.

We took inspiration from that timeframe and came up with ingredients like Yuzu and Tulip and we merged them into an amazing fragrance made by a few of the leading perfumers in the world. That was the basis.

Then we came back here into the museum, looking for inspiration for design from that same timeframe. And we ended up with The Lid Vase, part of which is now used as the design on the special Amsterdam Collection.

Elbers: The vase itself is from the 17th century. It’s a time when Dutch sailors were exploring the world and finding their way into Asia, and also in a way a time when East and West were meeting. The vase is Delft Blue and the design is taken from an Asian (Japanese) concept. All this is very applicable to our companies, where people travel, where people have an experience, where cultures are meeting. So a lot of thoughts and stories are coming together here.

Pieter Elbers: “The fact that the two of us are together here means it’s more than just the amenity bags, or personal care products. It really is, for us, the start of a partnership.”

A striking modern dance performance, which represented the coming together of East and West, introduced the Amsterdam Collection.

Where do you see the partnership going?

Elbers: Today is really the start. And the fact that the two of us are together here, the fact that we’ve launched with an event like this, it means it’s more than just the amenity bags, or just some personal care products. It really is, for us, the start of a partnership.

We’ll be opening our new lounge next year at Schiphol Airport. That’s going to be our new flagship lounge, coinciding with our centennial, so it’s very meaningful for us. In the lounge, people want to feel at ease. 65% of our customers are connecting at Schiphol, a huge number of them are coming from all over the world and connecting here, so if we want them to feel at home, we should let them feel at home. And the experience of Rituals helps us to do that.

Cloosterman: This is a gorgeous fragrance and we’re very proud of it, and we want to do more with it. Maybe onboard, maybe in the lounge… there are many, many more opportunities and we are very motivated to take this into a whole collection – a full Amsterdam Collection – and we’re working on that.

The collection

The new range will be available exclusively onboard KLM flights. Launching on 28 October, it comprises a hand foam in economy class, and a hand & body lotion, hair gel and body mist in business class. Travellers in business class will also receive a face moisturiser and lip balm set.

The aim of the collection, said the two companies, is to allow customers to arrive at their destination “feeling fresh, relaxed and ready to explore the world”.

The products are Rituals’ first releases from the Amsterdam Collection. Developed as part of the partnership with KLM, the range is inspired by the 17th century, when Dutch explorers first began to travel around Asia.

The key notes in the fragrance reflect this coming together of cultures: Japanese yuzu meets Dutch tulip. Yuzu is said to help slow premature ageing and boost the skin’s detoxification. Tulip is said to have a calming and soothing effect on dry and sensitive skin.

The two companies explained: “All of the products in this line were designed to create the feeling of ultimate relaxation – both during and after your flight.”

The Moodie Davitt e-Zine | Issue 250 | 30 October 2018