The Entrepreneur: Maria Hatzistefanis, Rodial
She has built a £16m global beauty brand with celebrity fans including Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Growing Business gets to know "Mrs Rodial"
Founder: Maria Hatzistefanis
Company: Rodial Group
Description in one line: A group of three companies covering skincare and make-up – Rodial, NIP+FAB and NIP+MAN
12 month target: £25m
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- We specialise in targeted treatments for specific skin concerns
- We boast a string of celebrity endorsements (including Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Millie Mackintosh)
- We have a strong social media presence and following
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Launching a flagship sculpting make-up bar and counter in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge and achieving top five position among established brands.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
Daily sales of key wholesale accounts and web sales.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
The Group operates in 35 countries and we have a strong international focus; it accounts for 75% of our turnover.
We are looking at opportunities to either enter new markets or invest in existing international markets that have booming economies. We scale down investment to any market that is challenging.
Describe your growth funding path:
The company is privately owned by me and my family. We tapped on bank loans and overdrafts when we needed funds for growth.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Smartphones and tablets have massively helped my business. I am able to communicate with my teams all over the world at different time zones and also keep up with the business weekends, out of hours and when I am travelling.
This has given me the flexibility to multi-task and give my team direction anytime and from anywhere in the world.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
I would like the business to achieve turnover of over £50m and I would like to roll out flagship counters in all our key markets.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
The hardest thing has been scaling down the business at times of low activity, reducing costs and staff. Thankfully this hasn’t happened in the last few years as we are managing the growth more carefully.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Every time I made a decision against my instinct – whether that was hiring someone I wasn’t sure about or launching a product that I didn’t believe in – they ended up being decisions I later regretted.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
Taxes should be more favourable to smaller businesses. I also feel there should be more services open to small business that are flexible enough to support times of growth but also the need for businesses to scale down at times.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
I see a lot of people who think being an entrepreneur is a “get rich quick scheme”. You need to do what you are passionate about and not do it for the money as it won’t come easy.
How will your market look in three years?
It would be interesting to see where China will be in three years; it had a big boom and everyone started investing in it but now it looks like the growth has slowed down. If this market becomes as big as expected it will be a massive opportunity for beauty brands.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Work hard and be patient. There is no such thing as an overnight success, small steps will lead to something bigger but success takes a long time to achieve.
Frequent shopping sprees to net-a-porter and matchesfashion.com. There's no time to shop so it's a luxury to have your shopping hand-delivered whenever and wherever I am.
Executive education or learn it on the job?
I did get an MBA from Columbia Business School but I honestly can say that 90% of my experience has been on the job.
What would make you a better leader?
The more experience I get, the better leader I can be – there are no shortcuts.
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
That things work out in the end, I was stressing out every single day when I started.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
I read INC magazine via its app as it’s a great way to keep up to speed with the latest business trends. For personal, I use Shazam a lot to identify songs when I am out and about and then add them to my workout playlist.
Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
Maria Hatzistefanis is an O2 Business ambassador, supporting Business Essentials – a flexible tariff for small businesses. For more information visit o2.co.uk/businessessentials