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Maria Hatzistefanis

CEO & Founder, Rodial

More than a decade ago, Greek-born Maria Hatzistefanis started Rodial out of the spare room in her London flat. The skincare line, which launched makeup last year, is now available in dozens of countries—including Blue Mercury and Nordstrom here in the United States.

“It’s easy to look at that success and assume I got things right on the first go,” Hatzistefanis explains. “But I had careers in both beauty and banking before returning to beauty to launch a business. I’ve lived many lives.”

Moral of the story? Don’t get stuck. If you want to change careers, change careers. If you want to go back, go back.

“But perhaps even more important than finding the right career is finding the right team. I interview a lot of people and have learned the red flags on a resume… There’s nothing more important than the loyalty of people around you.”

So, want to know what gets your resume tossed in Rodial’s garbage? And what will have you headed to an interview with the CEO? Hatzistefanis reveals below.

Reinventing the British skincare movement

Why start the business in London as opposed to your native Greece?
“Honestly? I happened to be living in London at the time. I had studied [for my masters in business] at Columbia University, but moved to the U.K. for a finance job with Solomon Brothers’s headquarters. Starting Rodial in London was easier, though. It’s a city—more than any other city—where consumers love whatever’s new and up-and-coming. And they embrace small brands, especially ones with a backstory. People talk a lot about the American startup scene, but I would launch a company in England again and again.”

What is it about Brits that makes them so accepting of new brands?
“It’s part of the British culture—everyone wants to be quirky, eccentric, to have what no one else has. Take our fashion as an example: People are a little more streamlined in cities like New York, Paris and Milan. But in London, anything goes. It’s cool to be crazy. Which gives the brands that live there the room to be more innovative and out-of-the-box—and that’s true no matter what industry you’re in.”

A British Brand.

[London is] a place... where consumers love whatever's new, niche and up-and-coming.”
In London, everything goes. It's cool to be crazy.”

What’s your craziest product?
“Our bee venom micro-stinging patches (shown below). You put them on laugh lines—those deeper lines between your nose and mouth that could previously only be treated with fillers. Our patches, though, have 350 micro needles packed with hyaluronic acid and bee venom. The needles penetrate and then melt into your skin, giving this amazing XXL plumping that lasts for 48 hours. We’re the first brand to come up with something so condensed and revolutionary.”

And you think that’s a product that would do better in England? Because the trend in the United States right now is definitely toward naturals.
“It’s funny because about five years ago in the U.K., we had this organic trend—skincare, food, everything organic. But now it’s over. People have started wanting products that are effective again and, in my opinion, the natural skincare market doesn’t do that well. I think that trend arrived in the U.S. a little bit later, but here in the U.K. we’re at the end of it and it’s all about high-tech products with instant results.”

So, high-tech it is.
“When you have 20-year-olds getting their lips and chins done—getting plastic surgery and injectables at such young ages—you have new customers coming into the skincare market that aren’t going to go for an organic cream. They’ll only buy something that really works. It seemed like a missed opportunity not to create products that would deliver the level of results people are looking for.”

Out-of-the-box ideas.

Here in the U.K., we're at the end of [the organic trend].”
"You have 20-year-olds getting their lips and chins done... who aren't going to go for an organic cream."”

You mentioned earlier there are some things not to put on your resume.
“Obviously, there’s a gut feeling you get when you sit down with someone that says, ‘Ok, we can or can’t work together.’ But if someone’s resume shows they’ve changed jobs too often, that’s a red flag to me. Staying places for less than a year either means you can’t fit, or that you’re always hunting for a higher title and salary. I probably wouldn’t hire them.”

So, would you say you’ve perfected the hiring process?
“I probably get it right 95% of the time, but then there’s 5% of people who look right, feel right, say the right things… and then you can only judge them when they start working. Some people just interview very well… But if it’s not working, don’t force it. Your team is the most important part of your business and you can’t be afraid to do what’s necessary to get it right.”

One last sage piece of wisdom for young disruptors hoping to work in the industry?
“Not to discourage anyone, but, at least in this space, it’s harder to launch brands now than it was before. It used to be there were a certain number of print publications; you knew who the editors were and how to work with them in order to get your products out there… But now, the digital landscape is so vast and hard to navigate that it makes it more difficult to launch brands and products. Plus, the rules are constantly changing—what works now might not work six months from now. My advice is to dedicate an ever-larger portion of your team to understanding this digital media part of the business.”

For more advice from this entrepreneur, visit


Red Flag Resumes.

Your team is the most important part of your business.”


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