The supplement brand Ritual was born when Katerina Schneider was pregnant with her first child. She was shocked at the lack of ingredient transparency and filler ingredients in the prenatal and women’s multivitamins on the market, which led her to set off to create her own.
As a pregnant woman taking fundraising meetings in the mostly-male world of venture capital, she was told she had a choice: she can grow her business or grow her family, but she couldn’t do both. Kat let this negative response fuel her passion to launch Ritual in 2016.
Fast-forward to now, Ritual has expanded into men’s, teen’s and kid’s multivitamins and plant-based protein powder created by an in-house team of scientists and doctors. This spring, the brand launched their first gut health product Synbiotic+, a 3-in-1 prebiotic, postbiotic and probiotic, designed with 2 of the world’s most clinically studied probiotic strains.
Over the past 6 years, Ritual has not slowed down when it comes to their mission of providing radical transparency into what consumers are putting into their body and why. Aside from their Made Traceable pledge to consumers, which shows that the science and sourcing is legitimate, Ritual earned B Corp Certification this July and also boasts of the hardest 3rd party certifications in the industry including USP Verification on their Essential for Women 18+ and Informed Sport Certification for Their Essential Protein. Ritual’s committed to taking traceability to the next level in every aspect of the business.
As part of my research on purpose-driven business, I recently talked with Ritual’s CEO Katerina Schneider and Chief Impact Officer Lindsay Dahl about Ritual’s science-based and transparency-focused business model, which includes B Corp certification.
Christopher Marquis: How is Ritual working to reduce its environmental impact from ingredient sourcing to packaging?
Lindsay Dahl: Ritual established our sustainability program and developed goals that are based on science that calls us to do better. We align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and we use scientific tools – like Life Cycle Assessments – to help drive truly sustainable decisions around ingredients and packaging. We recently established industry-defining sustainability goals: working to have 100% of our labeled ingredients Made Traceable (publicly sharing final place of manufacturing and supplier names), sustainable packaging by 2025 and working towards net zero emissions. The supplement industry is built on the premise of supporting our health, and yet it has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to one of the largest health issues of our time: climate change. We understand these goals are ambitious and are committed to doing the hard work.
Marquis: Ritual’s traceable supply chain sets itself apart from many of the supplement brands out there. Can you describe this in more detail?
Katerina Schneider: To us, traceability is more than transparency. It’s openly sharing the science and sourcing behind our products. This means we publicly share the source, supplier and final location of manufacturing for our labeled ingredients with our customer and our competitors. We’ve been asked several times if we worry others may copy us and the answer is: we hope so. By publicly sharing our supplier names on our websites, we hope to increase the number of players making high-quality products so everyone can feel confident in the products they take every day.
Traceability also means we raise the standard on what it means to have a “science-backed” product. Our team of scientists use what we believe is the best available science and clinical research to select the ideal forms and dosages of ingredients used in our formulas. We consider different lifestyles, diets, and DNA factors so we can create accessible products. We also seek out clinically studied ingredients for our formulas, using transparent science to have confidence they work. We’ve even completed a university-led peer-reviewed and published clinical study on our flagship multivitamin, Essential for Women 18+.
We also don’t want our customers to just take our word for it, we show them the proof. We believe traceable science should be backed by credible third party validation which is why we’ve invested in certifications like USP (a leading third party certification for product transparency that is held by less than 1% of supplement companies), Non-GMO Project- Verified, Informed Sport and Informed Protein.
Marquis: There is a lot of confusion and false claims in the supplement industry. Please describe your science-based approach and clinical trials.
Dahl: As a brand built by scientists, and skeptics, we work hard to transparently share the science behind our products and not overstate health benefits. Many products in our category use terms like “clinically studied” and in many cases the formula itself hasn’t undergone a clinical trial, rather one of the ingredients. In addition, the ingredient may not actually be present in the supplement at the dose it was studied. We leverage clinically studied ingredients and clearly communicated which ingredients were studied to consumers, like with our newly launched gut health product, Synbiotic+.
While clinical trials on final formulas are not required nor the industry standard, we went the extra step and completed a clinical study on our most popular multivitamin, Essential for Women 18+. Our clinical trial was modeled based on the gold standards of science, using a leading university, and published in a peer-reviewed journal. We were thrilled when the results showed key nutrients in our formula were having the designed impact on the body. We also chose to have our clinical study conducted on women, knowing that was our target audience and women are understudied.
As a brand we work hard to showcase integrity in how we market our products making it clear which formulas have had full clinical studies (our Essentials for Women 18+) and which are on individual ingredients (like our gut health product).
Marquis: What does Ritual’s Certified B Corp status mean as a player in the vitamin and supplement industry?
Dahl: We’re thrilled to be one of the few brands in the supplement industry to officially become a Certified B Corp and hope more follow in our footsteps. This certification is such an important part of holding ourselves accountable, longterm, to not only think about our company’s financial health, but also the health of people and our planet. Embracing the “triple bottom line” is hard to do in practice and Certified B Corporations signal to consumers that we’re putting this philosophy to action everyday.
Marquis: Certified B Corporations must meet rigorous criteria around people, the planet and profit. How does Ritual support its employees, supply chain workers, and customers?
Schneider: When it comes to protecting people, we take a comprehensive approach to our employees and workers in our supply chain. We are rolling out a comprehensive and people-centric Code of Conduct in the coming months and we actively conduct human rights reviews for high risk ingredients and regions.
Our employees are at the heart of everything we do, and we support them in a number of ways including unlimited paid time off (including a 10 day off), work-from-home and wellness stipends minimums, comprehensive medical insurance, mental health services, among other benefits.
I also wanted to create a family friendly work culture and we’ve developed policies that help reflect that. This is what fueled me to start Ritual in the first place when an investor told me I couldn’t have a family and a career at the same time. For example we offer 20 weeks of fully paid inclusive parental leave, monthly child care stipends, flexible schedules. In addition we are using the power of our business by advocating for national paid family leave by directly engaging Congress on this topic.