How This Founder Built A $90 Million Skincare Business WITHOUT Beauty-Industry ExperienceOn by
In the ladies Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we speak to founders about that pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into possible — and the first steps they required to make it work. In 1999, Maria Hatzistefanis didn’t know any thing about starting a small business — and she definitely didn’t know anything about creating cosmetics.
What she do know, however, was that she experienced a very good idea: skincare products that attended to specific consumer concerns, from dark circles to large pores. So she spent more than a season researching and acquainting herself with the area before bootstrapping and launching Rodial. 90 million operation, with products sold across 35 countries.
Here, the CEO and sponsor of podcast Overnight Success chat us through the rules she used to get her start. As both a passionate consumer and previous beauty article writer, Hatzistefanis was able to spot a difference in the market. “I needed to build a skincare range that offered targeted treatment for various pores and skin concerns, like, say, hyper-pigmentation,” she told Entrepreneur.
But, she said, she had no basic idea the place to start. To understand what she needed, she attended beauty-industry trade shows to teach herself on the industry and get to know the labs, designers and product packaging companies she’d partner with to make her company possible eventually. “I visited probably five or six shows across Europe in just a matter of months,” Hatzistefanis said.
2. Find your first partner. Following her trade-show research, Hatzistefanis met with multiple London-based labs searching for a partner who could help interpret her eyesight and create real product. “I knew what I wanted the outcome to be, but I don’t have a chemistry history,” she said. “I couldn’t put a formulation together to save my entire life!
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Some labs were too big to take on her startup’s work, among others tried to persuade her to brand pre-existing formulas simply. Hatzistefanis wasn’t on board with this: “It was important that we create our very own,” she said. “So that it required a great deal of labs out of the operating.” Finally, she found a local production facility that understood her mission, and she spent a year finalizing her formulations. Hatzistefanis started work on Rodial’s branding when her product lineup was firmed up. “I started doing all of this work in parallel,” she said. She had to compromise ultimately, using off-the-shelf product packaging and customizing label designs.
But, determined to move forward, she decided that each time she produced a new run of her product, she would tweak and update the packaging to stay to her original vision close. 4. Start offering — any real way you can. In 1999 Back, launching a brand online wasn’t a choice; retail was the only choice. “I sent emails to all or any the stores within London, explaining the products,” Hatzistefanis said.
She persisted, however, season and within her first, a little store in London specified a tiny amount of space for Rodial — but it came with strings. “They provided me half a year to sell all of our product, and if we didn’t, I had fashioned to take it back again from them and issue the store a refund,” she said. As a solo founder without staff, Hatzistefanis assumed all of the sales pressure. 5. Make your first hire. Hatzistefanis shaped a vital camaraderie — and partnership — on that sales floor. I became friendly quite, and she started talking to me about ways to take my business to another level and drive sales,” she said. “I wasn’t a particularly good salesperson, therefore i brought her in as my sales manager, even though I could afford it barely.
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