Rodial and Nip + Fab founder Maria Hatzistefanis has a few ideas about what it takes to make it big in business.
Queen of social media, personal branding and buzzy product launches, Maria Hatzistefanis knows a thing or two about founding and running a successful beauty brand. With her upscale skincare brand, Rodial, and hip little sister line, Nip + Fab, sold in over 20,000 stores across 35 different countries, she is pretty much the definition of a kick-ass businesswoman. But she didn’t start out that way. From getting fired from her high-paying banking gig to starting Rodial out of a bedroom in her own home, Hatzistefanis’ inspirational memoir-cum-business guidebook How to Be an Overnight Success: Making It in Business details her climb to the top, and how it took a whole lot more than one night to get there. Here are a few choice words of wisdom:
On the benefit of being fired:
“Generally, there is a solid reason why someone gets fired. You may be in the wrong industry; you may not be enjoying your work any more; you may dread going in to the office; you may not fit in the culture of the company or just not be the right fit for the role. Whatever the reason, getting fired may be the wake-up call that you need to make you rethink your choices. It may turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to you.”
On the choice to start a business:
“Being an entrepreneur is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a very emotional and very time-consuming commitment, and you have to be ready for it. You are doing what you love. You control your future. But you are also bringing a huge amount of uncertainty into your life and you can never switch it off. Your business and your life are one.”
On endless hard work:
“I may be exhausted after flying the red eye from NY and landing at Heathrow at 7 a.m., but I go straight to the office. Am I exhausted? Yes. Do I have a coffee and just get on with my day? Absolutely! I could make a case to myself that ‘Hey, it’s my business, I’m the boss, I’ll take the rest of the day off.’ And as I AM the boss no one is going to argue. But if you want success, there is no time for that. I am yet to find a massively successful person who works nine-to-five and switches off after work.”
On hiring the right people:
“My motto is: Hire slow and fire fast. I used to hire people in a rush because there was a job opening, but then regretted it when it was the wrong choice. I now never rush a hiring decision even if that means that a position may remain open for a few months until we get the right candidate.”
On taking risks:
“Whenever I am about to take a risk of any sort, I always calculate what is the worst thing that can happen. If I am able to live with the consequences of the worst-case scenario, I go for it. I could have gone safe and called my product ‘Anti-Aging Serum.’ Boring. I went all the way and called it Snake Serum. The name created lots of free press, it went viral internationally and within a month of launching we were shipping pallets of Snake Serum all over the world.”
On getting press coverage:
“The press release needs to be catchy, and the way you package and send the product needs to be beautiful and represent your brand. A handwritten note by the founder always helps. If you have a product that is different to the competition, you package it well and send it to the right people, then it will be featured sooner rather than later. After sending it you need to follow up, but know your limits. No one likes a stalker.”
On taking control of social media:
“I quickly learned to take social media very seriously. Today, it is how the brand is represented to the outside world and I need to be on top of it. You can’t get an intern and let them run with it. I know what is right for the brand, so I give the overall tone and direction of our social media and my team executes.”
On building your personal brand:
“Creating your own brand is an art. Your personal branding aligns what you want people to think about you with what they actually think about you. What is your story? What are you good at? What are your marketable qualities? Write all this down. Then think of how you want people to perceive you. Does your current situation match what you want to be known for? If not, then you need to put together a plan of action to develop your personal brand to get it where you want it to be.”
On owning your look:
“Remember to celebrate and exploit your uniqueness. Not everyone is Vogue-cover material, but you need to use what you have got to your advantage. Lots of freckles? Then make that your thing! Only four foot eight inches tall? Be the small chick with a big attitude.”
On having a catchphrase:
“In the early years of the business, when all that was driving me and my team was sheer passion and nothing else, we always said to each other the same phrase when facing a challenge: ‘Make it happen.’ And we always did. I had this phrase mounted and placed on the wall in my office. The team knows it, the suppliers know it and the new visitors know it.”
How to Be an Overnight Success: Making It In Business, $22.02, hits bookshelves on February 27, 2018 and is available for pre-order now at amazon.ca.
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