The beauty of the boss, who has transformed the snakes into ladders


Snake Serum and Dragon’s Blood – not names you would like, first, to associate with a top of the range of treatments of the range.

Thus, when Maria Hatzistefanis decided after several years in the business to provide more beauty products catchy names, she knew that it could be risky.

It worked, however. Not only do the names create a talking point, they have given birth to products flying off the shelves.

For years, the chief executive officer and founder of beauty brands Rodial and Nip + Fab had erred on the side of safety. “That doesn’t help us a lot,” she admits now.

“I was going to throw the serum with the name “anti-wrinkle serum”, but it was not exciting,” she said.

Ms Hatzistefanis, 47, said one of the main ingredients used in its products, syn-ake peptide, and a replica of the reaction to a snake bite, resulting in a soft gel-like effect of the facial muscles.

“One day, I discussed with my team and, as one of the ingredients mimics the effect of snake venom, I said “let’s go crazy and see what happens”.

“We had no idea how things were going to go. We were a small company with nothing to lose,” she said.

The most exciting of the brand image has worked. “There has been a lot of interested people, including celebrities, who have been looking for the latest in anti-aging products.

“We have been selling in a period of a few weeks. We had to call the warehouse and get them to fill thousands of bottles. It was a crazy time,” explains the entrepreneur, who lives in London with her husband and two young boys.


Growing up in his native country, Greece, Ms Hatzistefanis always had a taste for beauty. As a teenager, she had to deal with friends to make-overs and would pull off skin care tips magazines.

While studying at the university, she found a dream job in part time beauty editor for Seventeen magazine.

But after graduating, she wanted to live in New York, and did an MBA at Columbia Business School.

That has led down a very different path. She has worked for the investment bank Salomon Brothers, has attracted first by the high salary and business travel.

But after two years of this non-stop life – first Wall Street, then in London, – she said-she mentally started to “see”.

Unsurprisingly, this did not go down too well with his bosses and they have made him redundant in 1999.

She didn’t want to work for another bank, and has decided to return to his passion for the beauty industry.

Ms Hatzistefanis recalled that at the time, and especially when she was a beauty writer, there were few skincare products targeting specific skin concerns – pigmentation, fine lines, age spots.

“It was basically on cleansers, toners and moisturisers. I’ve always thought that there should be specific products,” she said.

Nip and Tuck

So, armed with £ 20,000 in savings and a husband who has taken care of so that she was not taking a salary, she started to Rodial in London in 1999.

The idea was to produce products that treat specific skin concerns. The company started with four products, including a lotion for the body target the cellulite.

Like many small-business owners, desiring to be stored on the shelves of the stores, Ms Hatzistefanis said those first years were difficult.

“I’d have a good day, thinking,” yes, my product should be in the store ” and send them an e-mail.” If a rejection came, “I would be discouraged and I’d leave it for a bit”.

“But then, if something big happened with the business [such as a good piece of press] I thought, ‘Ok, this is the right time” to try again.”

In 2001, Fenwick of Bond Street, became its first store dealer.

The growth of the company, and in 2010 Ms Hatzistefanis started a second brand, Nip + Fab targeting a younger, more money-conscious consumer.


Reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner has been signed as a brand ambassador in 2015 after the Kardashian sister is flying the flag of one of the Nip + Fab products on Instagram. Sales tips.

Last November, the 19-year-old model Sofia Ritchie has become the latest brand ambassador.

Together, the Rodial and Nip + Fab brands 10, 000 points of sale worldwide, including Boots, Superdrug and Harrods, and the web sites that sell directly to consumers. Annual sales between the two brands are thought to be near £20m mark.

The performance of Rodial and Nip + Fab comes in as the beauty industry is booming, with the market of care of a value of $116 billion (£83bn) in 2016, up from $110bn in 2015, according to Euromonitor.

Irina Barbalova, a beauty analyst for Euromonitor International, says that the brands are good performance in a competitive market.

“The two brands have a highly focused portfolio of products centered around some of the concerns of the skin and the face and the parts of the body,” she said.

“Customers are looking for high quality, and Rodial projects of these references through a strong image of luxury and price, and science-the backup of the target the high-end spenders. Nip + Fab connects with young people in the cohort through playful language and packaging.”


However, Ms Barbalova said keeping the current rate of growth in the midst of competition from new start-ups and direct-to-consumer brands will be quite a challenge.

Ms Hatzistefanis says she does not intend to sell the brands, which employ 150 people, and are based in Chelsea, London.

“I love what I do and I love to be in control of things. The company is profitable…. But never say never,” she said.

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As well as the business sense, it is clearly motivated. A typical day may include working on the launch of new products, mentoring, conferences, press interviews and celebrity parties.

She responds to most of the social media posts on its own, “Ms. Rodial” Instagram page, which has a million followers, and she recently launched a business help book, “How to be an Overnight Success”.

How does she do it all?

“I start each day with a mission and a plan,” she said. “I can’t pretend that it is without effort. It takes a lot of work.

“Rodial and Nip + Fab are my day-to-day work, but I like to be there, and speaking and mentoring makes me feel good to be able to give something back.”