My Life’s Work | Maria Hatzistefanis, founder, Rodial

In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week we meet Maria Hatzistefanis, founder of global beauty brand Rodial, on bestselling product ‘Snake Serum’ and her new book ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’.

Maria Hatzistefanis, founded the groundbreaking skincare group Rodial in 1999 after identifying a niche for treatments targeted to specific skin concerns. With a growing global beauty empire, her results-oriented products excite with evocative tongue-in-cheek names such as Dragon’s Blood or Snake Serum. There are two brands – Rodial & Nip + Fab– sold through 20,000 doors across 35 countries worldwide including Saks Fifth Avenue, Space NK and Harrods. Today, the cutting-edge products are available in the most prestigious stores around the world, while high-profile celebrities such as Kylie Jenner front the brands’ campaigns. Most recently, Maria has written a bestselling book, “How To Be An Overnight Success”, which chronicles Maria’s journey taking her business from a start-up to one of the leading beauty brand in the world.

What does British luxury mean to you?
Quality, craftsmanship and innovation.

What’s your vision for Rodial?
Rodial is already a global brand and available in over 35 countries. My vision is to continue to expand the range focusing specifically on our makeup collection and growing counters for the range in luxury department stores. Since we launched our first Flagship Sculpting Bar in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, it has been a huge success, it is my mission to expand these counters globally.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is really seeing all of my hard work come together and seeing Rodial become one of the biggest brands in the industry sitting in department stores next to YSL, Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford. We have now expanded into makeup which is such an achievement as the competition nowadays is fierce, but the range is continuing to grow and sell-out all over the world which is amazing to watch.

How do you define success?
I think success is all about achieving your goals and raising the stakes for future achievements. It never ends!

What’s your greatest extravagance?
I have a weekly deep tissue massage.

What do you like most about your job?
I like the pace of my job. Sometimes I am dealing with a million different issues, from NPD sign-offs to design and sales challenges, meeting with buyers and dealing with my team. On the flipside I get to really connect with Rodial fans which is amazing. I have had such amazing feedback since I launched my first book, ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’, with many readers contacting me to say how motivating they found my story. I love to motivate others which is another aspect of what I do that I really love.

When someone from the team resigns, I feel I am losing a family member.

What has been your greatest regret?
I don’t really have any; I made mistakes when taking certain risks but I always learn from them and come back stronger. So no regrets!

What’s the smartest business idea you have ever had?
Naming our first anti-ageing serum ‘Snake Serum’ – that put Rodial on the map.

What was your big break?
Launching Rodial makeup and getting a full counter in the most luxurious department store in the world, Harvey Nichols. This really took Rodial to the next level. The launch of the Rodial Snake Serum was the moment that Rodial really took off and become an “overnight success”. The product was featured on a German TV show and we sold out in minutes, it created a massive wave of publicity worldwide and we were begging our manufacturers to run off more stock to keep up with the demand, it was crazy.

What is your guiding principle?
Never take ‘no’ for an answer and never give up.

Which living person do you most admire?
I really love strong women who are really killing it in their industries such as Beyoncé, Anna Wintour and Victoria Beckham.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
That my job is to extinguish fires.

What keeps you awake at night?
My next product launch.

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, passion and motivation. The best friends are the ones that push and encourage you to achieve your goals.

In a parallel life, what would you be doing? 
I would be working in fashion for sure. I have an obsession with fashion, my Instagram page @mrsrodial is ironically full of fashion rather than beauty!

What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?
Believe in yourself, your ideas, your hopes and your dreams. It’s not meant to be easy, there is going to be something waiting for you at every corner to try and bring you down, you need to have a really thick skin to succeed in the luxury market. The competition is always fierce, so ensure that you have faith in your ideas and yourself.