London-based beauty entrepreneur, Maria Hatzistefanis, founded her ground-breaking skincare group, Rodial, in 1999 by 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 Stem Cell Super Food. There are three brands – Rodial, Nip + Fab, and Nip + Man – sold through 20,000 doors across 35 countries worldwide. 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.
In 2014, Hatzistefanis expanded Rodial with a makeup collection and an exclusive sculpting bar and counter in London’s Harvey Nichols. She pioneered the concept of communicating with the consumer in the digital age via social media with her social media handle @mrsrodial, with over 450k followers on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. She is also the executive producer and star of the docu-series “The Mrs. Rodial project”, about the drama and glamour of the world of beauty, fashion and celebrities.
Maria started her career as a beauty writer before moving to New York where she received an MBA from Columbia Business School. After a stint in corporate finance at Salomon Brothers, first in New York and then London, she followed her passion and instinct for beauty by founding Rodial. Maria has become a respected and sought-after opinion-leader. Her point-of-view attracts followers both online and off, and she is increasingly in demand to speak at fashion, business, and digital conferences such as her latest appearance at London’s Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design, Web Summit, Fashion Tech Forum and WWD Digital. Maria is a patron of the British Fashion Council and recently partnered with Central Saint Martins on a new product design.
Interview by Adrielyn Christi
Many women do not have the experience needed to apply makeup such as makeup artists do, and then there are those who just simply want a beautiful face but not have the look of being made up. I fell in love with the whole message of Rodial Skincare’s brand.
Maria Hatzistefanis, the founder, and creator of Rodial Skincare and Cosmetics has created a line of beauty and cosmetic products that take you from transforming your skin with a daily skin-care routine to a line of cosmetics that give you a flawless, yet finished look. As you read the following interview with this innovative woman, you’ll want to run to your nearest Barney’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Planet Beauty to purchase your Rodial Skincare products that suit your skin. Become a part of the newest wave of skincare and cosmetic products, as many celebrities and performers have also come to love this brand.
Maria: Thank you for talking to me this early in the morning (laughing).
Adrielyn: Oh, no really, it’s not a problem, I’m up at 7 am or earlier (laughing).
Adrielyn: This is a real treat to be able to interview you. So tell me, how did you get Rodial started, what was the inspiration to create it?
Maria: I was doing some freelance work with Seventeen magazine, and I was trying out some products and writing about beauty and also trying different product and formulas, and at that time, which was a long time ago, over fifteen years ago, there wasn’t that much in the skin-care markets. All there was were the Clinique Dramatically Moisturizing lotion, a toner, and a cleanser. At that time, I thought there must be something more exciting that we can do with the skincare market and be a little more targeted rather than just a generic product, just identify the need. Whether we were looking at pigmentation or fine lines, crows-feet or thinning skin, and coming up with products that target the specific problem rather than one solution for all. I thought about it, but at the time, I was young and wasn’t ready to start a business. After moving to the U.S. from Greece and studying finance, it just didn’t interest me; my passion wasn’t there. That’s when I realized, I freelanced for beauty and thought about how hard this could be on the skin-care end. After finding a lab based in London (which I still work with them ten years later), I gave them my ideas of what I wanted, and they came up with a formula.
We tried them together, and a year later, I had my first full product!
Adrielyn: What exactly is Dragonsblood and how did that come about?
Maria: I know it comes from the show Game of Thrones (laughing), but it originates from the top of a tree called Dracaena, as it helps to lock in the moisture of the skin and plump up the skin. This is one of the key ingredients that we use along with hyaluronic acid.
Adrielyn: What other ingredients are essential?
Maria: We use several key ingredients in many of our products. There is one called Syn-Ake dipeptide which mimics the effects of temple viper venom by smoothing the skin, Cyclopeptide-5, and Juvinity, which mimics bee venom to refine the surface of the skin.
Adrielyn: How did you come up with the names of the products?
Maria: Rather than using an ingredient and hiding it and calling it an amazing anti-aging creme, we capitalized off of the names in which some of the products came from or mimicked. It created the buzz that we needed to get the people talking about the brand. We’ve been able to stay an independent brand as we’ve grown and we are one of just a few of them left.
Adrielyn: Since your growth and since you’ve been able to stay independent, have brands approached you with buyout offers?
Maria: We always have labels interested, but I started this business together with my husband, and we’ve grown it organically to the point where we have become profitable.
The business model from the beginning was let’s just make it a cost-effective and sustainable business that doesn’t need tons of investments to keep it going. This was something that I’ve done. I’ve started this business with passion, and my husband then joined me who is now the CFO, and we enjoy this. This is my life; this is my passion, I never created this, so I can sell it out and go and retire and have a quiet life, it drives me.
Adrielyn: Where do you see the brand going in the future as far as the growth and keeping it independent?
Maria: What we have done with Rodial is the launch of our makeup line two years ago, and that has been a massive driver for the Rodial business, because we can use the existing distribution network to distribute makeup.
Adrielyn: What type of cosmetics have been created from Rodial?
Maria: We have developed a sculpting and contouring range that is easy to use and easy to apply. The idea was that there was a lot of ranges out there that have been developed by makeup artists and sometimes they can be complicated with all the formulas
and textures, which can be very pigmented and hard for an everyday woman like me who is not a makeup artist. It can be tough to navigate what you need, such as eye shadows and colors, so what I wanted to do was to create a range that was comfortable to use.
The formulas are sheer, and we have a lot of education that goes on with our teams to educate our customers on how to use the products and make sure we give them tips so within five or ten minutes of applying the makeup, they have this flawless look.
Adrielyn: I love that idea! So are there any other products such as lipsticks, eyeshadows, etc.?
Maria: The core of our business is skin tints to perfect the skin, and we do work with a lot of powders. We have contouring powders, bronzers, and our famous best-selling Banana Powder, that goes on under the eyes to cover dark circles and mattify the skin. We’re playing a lot with the powders to create the sculpted effect along with the skin tint. We
have a mouse regarding an eye shadow as it’s one product that does it all-a very versatile product. We have an emphasis on plumping and nourishing the lips, so we do have a small selection of colors that involve moisture and plumping with a sheer pop of color.
Adrielyn: My goodness, this is so exciting, I love that you have a brand that can be used by everyday women. Tell me, out of the Rodial the product, which one would you recommend to start out with?
Maria: The Dragonsblood range, this is our starter range for some reasons. The formulas are very hydrating but is very light, so this can be used for anyone in their twenties or thirties, and even in their forties, as long as they don’t have extreme dehydration.
Adrielyn: Anything you want to tell our readers, your fans or even the users of your brand?
Maria: Yes! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the U.S., and I will be a guest on an upcoming television show called Fashion Startup, which is part of Project Runway franchise. It is similar to Shark Tank where there are businesses that pitch investors for money, but it is more glamorous than that. They have beauty and fashion entrepreneurs who pitch their ideas to try and get money for their businesses. I
will be a guest on one of the episodes where I advise a fashion brand. I’m excited to be a part of this show.
Adrielyn: From the Trend Privé Magazine family, we thank you for spending this time with us as we get to know you and your brand!