C California Style

Maria Hatzistefanis, Rodial founder.

Spotlight: Maria Hatzistefanis

by C California Style

The glamorous Rodial founder unpacks the secret to her beauty brand’s success in a new book, and—spoiler alert—it didn’t happen overnight

Early efforts to mix the perfect shade of cream blush on-the-fly established Maria Hatzistefanis as an emerging beauty force in the tiny Greek town of Mytilene where she grew up. “We didn’t have a beauty shop on the island where I was raised,” she says during a recent visit to L.A. to speak at Create & Cultivate, a women’s business conference headlined by Kim Kardashian West. Indeed, the founder of London-based skincare disrupter brand Rodial, and its diffusion line Nip + Fab, continues to credit necessity as the mother of invention.

How to be an Overnight Success
Make it in Business

Hatzistefanis’ early potion dabbling led to a magazine internship—and with it, an insider’s look at global skincare. Business school followed, then a detour into banking before she struck out on her own, ultimately landing her current post at the helm of two brands whose serums, masks, and moisturizers are coveted by Kylie Jenner, Sofia Richie, Jourdan Dunn, Elle Macpherson, and Poppy Delevigne, and sold in over 35 countries. Along the way, Hatzistefanis—who is based in London and known as Mrs. Rodial on social media—has catalogued all the hiccups and triumphs during the 18 years she toiled before her first successful launches; and compiled them in a very candid new volume cheekily titled, How to Be An Overnight Success: Making It In Business (Virgin Books).

With eye-catching product names including Snake Serum and the cultish Dragon’s Blood range, Hatzistefanis’ company (whose name derives from rodi, Greek for the superfood pomegranate) is now a massive global brand. But, cautions the entrepreneur, it took a lot of time and effort. “You can be a success, but not overnight,” she insists. Hatzistefanis’ book is filled with the highs and lows of building a brand from a small back room in her London house by championing anti-aging Syn-Ake peptides that mimic the mild freeze-like effect of snake-bites, and daring to name another best-seller after an Amazonian tree sap (commonly called dragon’s blood) rich in phytochemicals.

Rodial Vitamin C Brightening products.

She credits being fired from her post-business school banking job as the best kick-starter. “It forced me to look into myself and figure out what I wanted to do,” she says. Always on the move, Hatzistefanis continues to introduce innovative serums and cleansers—her latest addition is a Vitamin C brightening line—always mixing synthetic peptides with natural ingredients to maximum effect. “Our formulas are constantly evolving, some have been reworked four or five times to become more potent or more natural,” Hatzistefanis adds. Her story, as the new book recounts, is a lesson in how to succeed in business by really trying.

Written by ELIZABETH VARNELL.
Photography Courtesy of RODIAL.