My West London Life

maria hatzistefanis

Maria Hatzistefanis


Founder of Rodial, Maria Hatzistefanis reveals her take on Botox, a hatred for Chelsea and how being controversial has paid off

What inspired you to create Rodial – how did the business first come about?

I started Rodial in 1999. I saw a gap in the market for a skincare range that offered targeted solutions to specific skin concerns. Unlike other skincare on the market at that time, the whole range is very specialised. I wanted to offer viable alternatives to plastic surgery for specific problems and there was nothing like it at the time (13 years ago). I was very daring for an unknown start-up and took risks, but it paid off. The brand is continually daring with its technology, imagery, branding, and ingredients. For example product names allude to plastic surgery or snake oil. Our names and references are controversial, but that’s why we stood out.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I love what I’m doing right now. I’d really like to still be doing this, but taking the business to the next level. Perhaps introducing new beauty brands to our portfolio.

You have two sons aged seven and nine, what do they think of the business?

They are very proud, they both come to the office every Friday and we have pizza. They get very excited when they spot Rodial products in a store. I think they’ll appreciate the business side, and the fact I created the business from scratch, more as they get older. They also love the chocolate scented Nip and Fab Dry Hand Fix.

You consider Rodial a viable alternative to surgery or interventions, have you tried Botox or fillers yourself?

I haven’t, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future. I’m all for doing whatever you like to improve your appearance, but many issues can’t be resolved by Botox and fillers. I don’t have any moral objections to injectables.

Whilst Botox and fillers can’t tackle texture or skin conditions as well as a cream, a cream can never replace the effectiveness of Botox 100 per cent. I’d say our Botox-replacing skincare can achieve 80 per cent of the effect of Botox, but also offers other benefits that Botox can’t provide.

You were born in Greece, what first brought you to the UK?

When I graduated from university in Athens I moved to New York to do my masters in business, I stayed in New York and worked at an investment bank for a year before they transferred me here. I came to London and found my spiritual home.

Where do you live and why?

I live in Notting Hill – I’d always wanted to move here but only made the leap a year ago. I wish I could have moved here earlier, but I hadn’t found the right place. I love how it is edgy and interesting, and filled with innovative, creative people. Until then I’d lived in Chelsea, which I now hate with a passion!

Do you think you could have created Rodial with such success had you remained in Greece?

No. I don’t think I could have created anything that would have been as successful as if I’d created it here. The UK had the perfect platform to launch anything new – there are stores that support up-and-coming creative businesses in a way you don’t get in other countries. The UK is looked to for trends and has international respect. If a product takes off here, other countries follow.

Where do you hang out in west London?

E&O, Pizza East, the Electric (before the fire), Granger & Co.

Talk us through your ideal weekend…

I would take the kids for breakfast at Lucky 7, then head to Portobello road to buy a vintage fur coat, perhaps take the kids to catch a film at the Electric cinema, followed by dinner with friends at E & O. On Sunday I might spend the day at Holland Park, play tennis, walk or run. I might get my hair done at Josh Wood Atelier, hidden behind Holland Park station.

Where is your favourite place in the world, and why?

I love going to the Cotswolds for the weekend. It feels untouched and I much prefer this to travelling long-haul to somewhere exotic. We just jump in the car and escape; it’s easy and relaxing.

Do you see yourself working on Rodial until the day you die?

I hope so, yes just like Estee Lauder. I’ve found my passion, the job motivates and drives me and I love the industry.

Any new projects in the pipeline?

We are venturing into makeup-hybrid skincare. We are launching our BB creams and super-glamourous tinted lip butters this Autumn – these are called Glamsticks.

You had a background in finance when you started the company, do you think this equipped you with the business acumen needed to make it a success?

I think the good thing about a finance background was that I was totally clueless about the amount of work needed to launch something in the beauty industry. Had I known about the competition and difficulty that lay ahead, I think I would have been overwhelmed at the first hurdle, so ignorance was bliss. Also I understood cash flows and was able to manage the business on a tight budget for the first couple of years. So yes, it definitely helped a lot.

Has Rodial taken you to any far-flung or exotic places?

Yes, Kuala Lumpar was very exotic. I’ve been to many Asian cities I wouldn’t have travelled to otherwise; Seoul in Korea was memorable.

What do you think you would have done had you not developed beauty products?

I would have been in editorial or fashion writing. I love magazines and I would love to have stayed in that area. My first job while I was at Uni was freelance fashion and beauty writing at Seventeen.

What are your favourite things?

[…laughs and says she won’t say her children as it’s too predictable] My Rodial Glambalm Lip; a picture of the Queen by artist Paul Levine and my grey Hermes cashmere blanket.

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