Maria Hatzistefanis, 47
Founder and CEO of Rodial
After facing countless rejections from investors, Maria Hatzistefanis stormed the beauty industry in 1999 with her cosmetics line, Rodial, now worth over $100 millions. Utilizing a radical approach to marketing and cutting-edge ingredients previously unseen (i.e. “dragon’s blood” and snake venom), the Greek-born beauty famously collaborated with Kylie Jenner on one of the first “influencer” campaigns, which put her brand on the map. Since then, she’s launched millennial-focused sister brand Nip+Fab, had two kids and has authored a how-to bestseller. Talk about an underachiever!
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
I decided to start my own business with Rodial as I saw a gap in the beauty market for a seriously active, fast acting and hardworking brand that would provide solutions for specific skincare concerns.
Working in the beauty industry wasn’t always the plan, but I had complete belief in Rodial and I knew that I could make it work. 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. 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.
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
When you start your own brand you will have people slam the door in your face because you are not a corporate machine. People told me that I would never get my products into the biggest department stores, or that sending them to celebrities would result in nothing. I think I can openly say that that kind of negative noise has been proven to be completely wrong! I explore this in my new book, How To Be An Overnight Success, chronicles how I started Rodial and all of the obstacles I encountered along the way, along with valuable advice on how to start your own brand.
"People told me that I would never get my products into the biggest department stores, or that sending them to celebrities would result in nothing."
3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?
Being an independent brand not owned by a big beauty conglomerate and not having massive advertising budgets is always a challenge as the big retailers give priority, space and benefits to the corporates more easily than to a smaller brand.
I have to prove that my brands can make it happen and can achieve the sales, innovation and exciting launches. Harvey Nichols in London believed in Rodial and gave us the opportunity to launch a flagship counter. To date, we are consistently on the Top 5 best performing brands ahead of a lot of the well-known beauty brands out there.
4. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?
First, I removed the negative energy. You need to surround yourself with people that believe in your quest, that believe in your goals as crazy as they may seem! You need to be around people that motivate you, not people that put you in a box and tell you to stay there. I think that for me, my journey has been all about willpower. When people say no to me I just won’t take it, I will strive to make it work whatever it takes.
"When people say no to me I just won’t take it, I will strive to make it work."
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
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, along with negative people,and the dreaded ‘no’ that you are going to encounter. You have to persevere, drown out the noise and prove that you cannot be stopped!
4 Min Read
COVID-19's impact on the world economy was virtually impossible to predict and fully prepare for. Governments balancing citizens' immediate health and safety vs. their financial needs resulted in emergency regulations that have hurt businesses worldwide. Today, the cannabis industry is considered essential, but as we entrepreneurs know, operating any business is a challenge. The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.
But how do we do it? Especially with the growing rate of anxiety and depression?
Resilience and Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life.
Lao Tzu once said: "Strong is he who conquers others, but powerful is he who is able to conquer himself." Being an entrepreneur is liberating but at the same time requires great responsibility. Being emotionally intelligent will help you think rationally, make clear decisions, and deal with people better. Being smart in the emotional field is a skill acquired over time. It takes consistent practice and dedication. It's similar to building a fit body through exercising; you will realize that the more you exercise, the more you are able to achieve your aim. The steps to building emotional intelligence include:
1) Understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent
You cannot achieve what you don't know. Before training to be emotionally intelligent, understand what it means and why it is important.
Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life. Being emotionally intelligent does not mean that you will not suffer or be upset, rather it means that you will be able to recognize and evaluate your feelings and others' feelings and plan on how to deal with them. It is also important to understand that achieving this is a gradual process and that people learn in different ways. Regular practice is necessary.
2) Think before making decisions
A lot of times when we are pushed to the wall or completely stressed out, we tend to act irrationally and end up regretting our actions. The best way to address this is to think before acting. Thinking before making decisions bring clarity about the situation and helps to avoid conflicts and unnecessary regrets.
3) Be empathetic
Everyone is in the same boat, and we never really know what's going on with the others around us. It is important to know how to put yourself in others' shoes, try to understand their behaviors, and always be open to new ideas!
4) Learn to relate to people
Good leaders are characterized by their good relationships with people. Having a genuine interest in people and encouraging their growth creates happy environments, and happy people are naturally more productive.
Seek not only to speak but to listen to people and try to understand what the other person is saying. This might be difficult, but it is a skill that produces a long-term benefit when you learn it.
Be open to receiving feedback and accepting diversity. The best way to grow professionally is by investing in relationships, as no one is or does everything alone all the time.
The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.
5) You are in control of your reactions
Everyone has feelings, and we feel different things every day. The key is to know how to act on those feelings.
For example, I can feel angry and:
- a) Keep it to myself
- b) shout and attack someone
- c) understand the reason for the anger, express what I'm feeling and why I'm feeling it
In all the reactions listed above, what triggered them is the same - anger. The reactions show that you might not be able to control what life puts in front of you, but you will always be in control of how you react.
6) Act with intention
Be in control of your focus, understand what is happening, and take action consciously. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present without letting the past or future affect you; it helps the mind to become healthier and happier.
7) Identify your strengths
Make a list of your best strengths and qualities and read them aloud. Remember that knowing your qualities helps you to become more focused and confident. This helps to increase your strength and emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is a process. Give yourself time to practice these steps, and gradually you will see improvement in your business and personal life with each day that passes.