Ries Is Changing How We See Beauty On The Go

Ries, the newly established label, is changing the way you see beauty on the go. Founded by former Vogue and Condé Nast marketer Megan Graham, who has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, she created Ries after years of traveling and her favorite products not coming in travel-size containers. Thus, the brand was launched in 2021 with a focus on reusable bottles that not only is inclusive of people of color but was made to handle serums and heavier creams and conditioners as well.

“Over the years I’d noticed a major disconnect when caring for my curly hair when I was on the road,” Graham explains. “Working in the beauty industry was the best first-hand market research, confirming that there were no options available on the market that does what Ries is designed to do.”

Ries’ Essential travel-size bottle features a generous opening for easy replenishing and rinsing, a leak-tight dual locking system, and an airless pump. Each of the label’s bottles are made of recycled plastic and pre-labeled so you can say “au revoir” to single-use plastic and breeze through TSA with no worries. Furthermore, the Essential bottle is available individually or in Ries’ travel sets, which respectively come for a post-gym refresh, moisturizing your skin head to toe, washing your hair on the go, or all of the above in the brand’s Complete Essential Set.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Ries founder Megan Graham in regards to how her experience in the beauty industry laid the groundwork for her to start the label, beauty tips for frequent travelers, and sustainability. Read on for our conversation.

For starters, how did you land on the brand name and what does it mean to you?

“Ries” is a shortening of the word toiletries. We put so much care and curation into our at-home beauty routines, but when we travel we tend to sacrifice a lot of the products we use to take care of. When thinking of the name, I wanted to redefine what it means to travel with our routines. We’re bringing a new thoughtfulness to the experience and seeing a true reflection of ourselves in the process. To me, Ries is the freedom to take care. 

Ries has been a decade in the making, can you expand on how your background in beauty marketing and fashion trend forecasting gravitated you towards launching your own label?

I first had the idea for Ries when I started working in fashion and was constantly traveling, but it wasn’t until I was well into my career leading Beauty Marketing for Vogue that I really decided to start building the brand. Over the years I’d noticed a major disconnect when caring for my curly hair when I was on the road. I’d research and cultivate a beauty and hair care routine at home, but traveling with my necessary products was a process I’d dread when getting ready for a trip.

I’d often purchase travel-size bottles made of virgin plastic or silicone and in the end, they’d leak, spill, and be impossible to clean. I’d toss them out at the end of a trip, haunted by the guilt of wasted product and single-use plastic. Working in the beauty industry was the best first-hand market research, confirming that there were no options available on the market that does what Ries is designed to do. Clean beauty was starting to take hold and a focus on sustainable ingredients, but no one was seriously tackling the packaging issue – certainly not from a travel perspective. 

Our pre-labeled, travel-sized bottles are designed to work best with personal care products like body washes, hair care, lotions, and more. They’re made of recycled plastics that are safe for skin and hair. And best of all, they are dishwasher safe and made to be reused over and over again. 

Previously, you mentioned that you spent years creating the perfect bottle that was leak-tight—what were some of the challenges that you faced while working on the prototypes?

When I started building Ries, I was totally new to the manufacturing process. I didn’t know a soul on the supply chain side! The entire process has been an education. In the early days, I was told by a lot of the older, white men who dominate that world that it couldn’t be done or questioned why I wanted to change the system. 

I’m grateful to have eventually found trusted partners who believed in the vision of a sustainable travel bottle and jumped into the fight with me to make it happen. But it was not an overnight process. It took three years, multiple designers, engineers, and two dozen prototypes. What we’ve done is a massive feat. We took on an industry that relied on single-use plastics and created an innovative solution.

I am so proud to say that Ries is the first and only reusable, dishwasher-safe, refillable airless pump on the market. I credit a fair mix of naiveté, stubbornness, and intuition that helped me push through that early period. As an individual and bootstrapped brand, we readily accepted the challenge to give more freedom to consumers and do our part to reduce plastic waste in beauty.

The travel retail sector itself is often viewed as outdated, but through Ries, you’re bringing a more modern and inclusive approach to it. How are you hoping to build on that in the future?

Everything we design focuses on the relationship between beauty and travel. We’re always thinking about how to take care while traveling and the freedoms that come with that feeling. We have a lot of new products and partnerships in the works that really speak to this space. Right now I’m most excited about our launch in Sephora this summer and bringing our products to one of the biggest beauty retailers in the world!

Can you share any beauty tips that you’ve picked up over the years as a frequent traveler? 

When I’m traveling a lot, I usually have my toiletry bag ready to go with a separate set of my base beauty products. I pretty much have two of everything—moisturizer, eyebrow pencil, blush, etc—and keep one set specifically for travel. For my hair care, having easy-to-fill travel bottles is a must-have for keeping my kit travel-ready. At home, I buy the largest size possible of my shampoos, conditioners, hair gels, and creams which makes getting ready for travel without disrupting my at-home routine much easier. 

Drinking water is always my biggest tip. Hydrating before, during, and after helps with puffiness, dry skin, jet-lag, pretty much everything improves by always having water readily available. As for my go-to products, the first two things I pack – in both my carry-on and suitcase – are a great body lotion and an SPF. Protecting and moisturizing skin makes every journey a more comfortable one. Right now I’m using First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream and the Murad Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45. 

What are some of your travel essentials other than the beauty items that are a must-have when on the go?

You will always catch me with a book and my film camera. I’m not a total Luddite, but I’m definitely a tactile person and love activities that require me to stay present and take in my surroundings when traveling. I’m currently reading The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines and I shoot with a Contax T3.

While replacing single-use plastic with reusable bottles is a major emphasis for the brand, what other solutions are out there to help the beauty industry become more sustainable?

Transparency matters. When we launched the Ries website, it was very important to me that we be transparent with our consumers from day one. We made it easy to find where we manufacture our products, the materials we use, where we ship from, and our sustainability goals for the future. 

We are constantly working with sustainability and materials experts to identify the best materials possible for our products. For me, reusability and reducing our reliance on virgin plastic was an obvious start. I hope the future includes even more sustainable materials and raw materials that are truly compostable or biodegradable. 

Ries also recently joined Masters of Good, a community of business owners working to create more transparent, sustainable business practices. It takes a larger business community in tandem with consumer support to make these changes at scale. 

Elsewhere in beauty, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite beauty brands across skincare, makeup, and hair to buy in March.

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