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In Conversation with Maria Hatzistefanis

In Conversation with Maria Hatzistefanis

Anne Kurian
  • Smart marketing, result-oriented ingredients and Hatzistefanis’s passion has made RODIAL a brand revered by A-Listers, beauty aficionados and influencers.
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RODIAL’s founder Maria Hatzistefanis talks in detail about the journey of the luxury skincare brand in her book ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’. If you haven’t yet read the book, it is easy to presume that Maria Hatzistefanis achieved success instantaneously with RODIAL. Well, it’s partly right. Hatzistefanis’s brand, which she launched in 1999, attained cult status in 2010 with the launch of the pathbreaking product, Snake Serum.

Smart marketing, result-oriented ingredients and Hatzistefanis’s passion has made RODIAL a brand revered by A-Listers, beauty aficionados and influencers. Astute, prudent and enterprising, Hatzistefanis has managed to keep her brand stand out from the endless array of global skincare names that have been in the business as well as pop up quite regularly.

In this engaging interview, Maria Hatzistefanis tells Anne Kurian why getting fired might not be a bad incident always, how Snake Serum put RODIAL on top of the skincare universe, what distinguishes the brand from the rest, and her latest book.

How did the shift from the world of finance to luxury skincare happen for you? 

I discuss this at length in my first book, ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’, the short version is I was fired! I think that I was on the wrong path when I was working in banking, my passion wasn’t there. Everyone around me was reading The Financial Times whilst I was immersed in Vogue! Getting fired was the best thing to happen to me as it forced me to take the ultimate risk and start Rodial.

Could you share in brief the strategy you had in place from conceptualising the brand and products to the final launch of Rodial?

Back then I thought that the skincare industry was really uninspiring. Everything was really simple and natural, I was keen to launch a brand that was active and provided people with quick results. I started the business on my own, I was doing it all, finding manufacturers and chemists, to pitching to retailers and working on the shop floor to sell the products. My operation was very small until the day I launched Snake Serum, that was the day that everything changed for me. People were blown away by this product with the crazy name that worked like actual snake venom to freeze fine lines and wrinkles. We went out of stock overnight and every global department store suddenly were interested and wanted Rodial.

How did you decide on the brand name?

In the early years of Rodial all of the products contained Pomegranate, which in Greek is Rodi. I expanded it to Rodial because I think it sounds luxurious.

Was there a particular reason why you decided to focus on a premium skincare line as opposed to a mainstream or drug store brand?

I was interested in luxury beauty at the time, so I felt that was where I would be able to make the biggest impact. I entered the masstige market years later with my brand Nip+Fab.

The Snake Venom skincare product brought and continues to bring so much attention to the brand. Please tell us the story behind it and the benefits of the product.

Snake Serum was the first product to put us on the map. We have recently re-mastered the product, moving it into sleek glass packaging and making the formula Vegan. It works to temporarily freeze fine lines and wrinkles, for a smooth complexion. It’s still to this day an amazing product.

How would you describe your journey as an entrepreneur and innovator? 

Hard work! I want to be honest because running any business is not a fairy-tale, its hard and you will feel that things do not move as quickly as you want them to. This is why I wrote my books and started my Overnight Success Podcast, I want to be real with people and show them that you need serious self-belief and motivation to survive this business. To this day Rodial is still a privately owned brand, one of the few left, my competition is big corporates with unlimited budgets. I have to work hard every single day to push my brand, my team, and connect with my customers. I cannot take a minute for granted. 

The luxury skincare and beauty industry in tough and competitive. Yet Rodial has carved a niche for itself. To what do you attribute the brand’s success?

We act fast. We don’t overthink, and plan for a year, we hustle and make it happen. I don’t get distracted by what other brands are doing, I focus on Rodial and our DNA. I launched Dragon’s Blood Sculpting Gel 10 years ago and it is still to this day our best seller, it is a gel that works to plump and contour the skin which no other brand offers. When I launched makeup I kept the ‘real’ woman in mind. The woman that doesn’t have time to use 20 eye shadows in one go. The Rodial makeup range is a capsule collection with products that women actually use every single day to enhance their natural beauty. Our Banana Lowlighter and Powder are best sellers which work to enhance the complexion, making areas of the face glow, we literally cannot keep them in stock!

If you had to pick three products from Rodial, which would you choose and why?

Pink Diamond Cleansing Balm, I am obsessed with it as it hydrates and illuminates with real Diamond Powder – everyone needs to use this. Diamond Concealer as it’s the most brightening concealer I have ever used, it also contains Diamond Powder for ultimate illumination. Finally Dragons Blood Sculpting Gel, it’s a classic and I have never used a product that has hydrated and plumped my skin so much.

Your book How To Be An Overnight Success became a bestseller. Now you have another book that has grabbed the headlines – How To Make It Happen. Please tell us more about the new book.

My first book was all about the early years, and the challenges I faced when starting my own brand. My new book is all about what happens next, what happens once you’ve started your own business, or you’ve got the dream job, it’s not the end of the story as you will still be challenged every day. This book is about how to be motivated and STAY motivated, how to drown out noise from toxic people and situations, and how to smash your next goal.

What’s your vision for Rodial over the next few years? 

I want to expand the Rodial makeup. Our makeup is amazing but is still a baby and there’s lots more I want to do with it.

How do keep yourself grounded in the current times that we are all passing through?

I am a positive person, so I like to find the silver lining of any situation. For me I have learnt so much in this time, I have seen that my business can thrive when our stores are closed, I have watched my team work really well from home, I have been able to personally connect so much more with our customers and clients. At the end of the day we are never in control, so we have to learn how to go with the flow.

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