Beauty entrepreneur, best-selling author, TV personality, and podcaster Maria Hatzistefanis – otherwise known as @MrsRodial – is the woman who launched a million grown-up girl crushes. From being fired from her job to heading award-winning beauty brand Rodial, Maria’s career journey is nothing less than movie script worthy. Not only is she known in the industry as an advocate for entrepreneurs, but she’s also a motivational speaker who inspires and encourages others to achieve their goals.
Following her best-selling 2017 debut book, How to Be An Overnight Success, 2020 saw the launch of How to Make It Happen, a ten-step guide to motivating yourself and realising your dreams. Released just before the pandemic took hold and caused millions to lose their jobs, Maria’s second book couldn’t have launched at a more pertinent time.
Since staying motivated has become tougher than usual in the last 12 months, Maria’s mission of helping others to be the very best they can be and launch their own businesses has taken on an even greater significance. And that is why The Gaggler couldn’t wait to quiz one of the most empowering female icons in the beauty industry on what keeps her perpetually motivated.
This has been one heck of a year – there couldn’t have been a better time for you to release a book specifically about motivation!
In this day and age, I think all of us need help with motivation more than ever. I actually go back and refer to the book whenever I’m having a tough day. I just pick a chapter and re-read it. It really does help. I don’t think you can ever say, ‘I have so much motivation, please don’t give me any more of it.’ Motivation is something you can never have enough of.
What are the basics of staying motivated?
In all of my books, I’ll tell you that I like to start my day early. When I’m in London, I wake up at 5am, and go to bed at 10pm. I don’t sleep for three hours and then force myself to wake up and say I’ve had enough sleep. I just can’t do it. Sleep – and the quality of your sleep – is so important.
Once I wake up, I ask myself how I’m feeling. Do I feel stressed, do I feel demotivated, do I feel uninspired? I use that first hour of the day to fix how I’m feeling, whether that’s by reading a book or listening to a podcast or reading my stars or tarot reading or whatever. Every morning, I do something different that just puts me in the right mindset to be positive for the day.
So many successful people are part of The 5am Club…
Waking up at 5am makes a big difference, and I need that. If you’re a morning person, you need to find that time for yourself. 5am is the best time of the day. And going to bed before 10pm is bliss.
The UK has been in lockdown three times now. How have you managed to stay motivated?
It’s been hard because what really motivates me and gets me excited is connecting with my team every day and having brainstorming sessions. We feed off each other’s energy. When we first started working from home, that was really hard for me – to not have that kind of interaction. And I’m definitely not saying that with Zoom meetings, everything was fixed and made normal by any stretch of the imagination. I still miss the interaction. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the office full-time so I can be with my team.
Do you think lockdown has helped you to learn how to change your business in a positive way?
There were a few things that I discovered, especially connecting with our international partners and PRs – we’ve done Zoom press conferences and masterclasses. In the past, it was like, ‘When are you coming to Taiwan next?’ And I’d reply, ‘Well, in two years.’ Now we don’t have to wait, so there were some positives that we discovered and implemented during this time. But in terms of my personal preference? I can’t say that lockdown was the best thing that ever happened to me, I’m just happy to get out of it.
Love it or hate it, Zoom has been a major springboard for the beauty and aesthetics industry. What effect did people becoming more focused on skincare, beauty, and makeup have on your business?
Zoom has changed how we communicate with each other, but constantly being on camera is tough. Yes, Zoom has a retouch function, but it’s not enough. You need more than a retouch, you need a bit of a product to get the result you want. It’s not easy, especially with the camera angle of most laptops.
For us, it’s been all about our Banana Lowlighter, a product that’s been around for about five years. When we developed it, the idea was based on a product that’s a little bit light-reflective, effective on dark circles, and gives an even finish but is not a concealer, so it works with every skin tone. I was surprised it didn’t take off at first – we had changed the packaging slightly, we’d improved the formula – and when lockdown came, Banana Lowlighter suddenly took off.
It’s now become the number one product in the business, even selling out a couple of times – that goes to show everyone is looking for that type of product right now. And as much as everyone wants proper skincare and a way to treat undereye circles, it’s also about quick fixes. It blends in and has a light-reflecting soft focus effect, so it blurs the appearance of imperfections. Because everyone is on camera a lot more, we’re all wondering, ‘What else can I do to look good in a few minutes because I have a conference call and haven’t had a chance to do my makeup properly?’ Hello, Banana Lowlighter!
Our Vitamin C range has also done really well. Whether it’s from wearing masks all the time or staying indoors a lot, we do get a lot of questions on breakouts and skin that’s congested. I thought that was only really a problem for the 18-20 year olds, but there’s a whole market out there of women in their 30s/40s/50s who are having breakouts because of the masks, the air, stress, hormonal changes, and all sorts of other factors.
How do you come up with ideas for new products? Is it something that’s scheduled to launch years in advance or more of a lightbulb moment?
It depends. A lot of it now is from the feedback that we’re getting from social media and, when the stores are open, we ask our salespeople what it is that people are looking for, what’s missing from our range. But sometimes we do have a lightbulb moment – we realise we need to have this product because there’s a gap in the market.
We actually launch a small selection of products. We only want them to be the future classics you love so much that you’ll want to buy them again and again. We’re not one of those brands that launch 100 products a year, just throwing them and waiting to see what sticks. We’re all about sustainability, a few good products that really do the job well. One eye cream, one serum, one concealer – you don’t need a lot. So that’s how we come up with product ideas. We don’t want to do trendy stuff, it’s more about long-term use and loving the product.
I feel that now, when we’re launching products, we are more in tune with what our customer wants rather than, ‘I want to launch this product because I just felt like it.’ We’re interested in the needs that we have observed during lockdown, and some of the real issues women have, so let’s develop products for those issues. And I think that’s a better way to launch products. It’s all about making you look great on the outside and feel good on the inside.
Do you have a business mentor of any kind?
I’ve tried, but I haven’t found one. I’m very much into self-help books, so whatever is going on in my life, I’ll hook out a self-help book, find a podcast or YouTube video and find my own mentors from whatever is available out there. There are a lot of different people who I relate to at different times, in whatever situation I’m going through.
Do you meditate?
Yes, I do. There was a time when I used to be very regimented and meditated every day, and I’d use the Headspace app every morning. Now, I meditate in the evening and do sleep meditation. I find that going to sleep now is becoming harder and harder because you may have a lot of thoughts that become bigger in the evening, so the evening meditation is actually helping me a lot. If I meditate in the morning, it’s more about affirmations, about giving myself direction.
If you have a lot on your mind, as they say, it’s hard to solve the problem at the problem’s level, so you have to take yourself out of it. And I find that meditation and affirmations can clear your head – if you take a step back, you can deal with any situation with a clear mind.
What three tips can you offer someone considering starting their own business?
My first piece of advice is never to wait for the perfect moment. If you have an idea and a passion, just go for it because I feel that action brings more action. It’s better to have an imperfect action and do it now than wait for perfection that may never come.
Number two is to always have a plan B. Know what your vision or goal is, but don’t get discouraged if plan A doesn’t work out – find a different way to get there. It doesn’t mean the pathway will be worse, it will just be different.
Thirdly, as always, have patience, whether you want to or not. A lot of people want to be an overnight success, they want to have it all the very next day. The reality is that anyone who puts their mind to it can be successful, but it’s a long road with ups and downs. Be patient because, truly, there is no such thing as overnight success. You’ll get there eventually.
Did you ever imagine that you would be where you are now?
The honest answer is no. When I started, it was a very small operation, just a couple of products. And at that point, it was more a case of let’s just see if this business is around in another year. I was never that person who started a business saying it’s going to be huge – I’m more about enjoying the journey and taking it all in. Obviously, I wanted to do well and have a sense of achievement, but it was always just about taking it a day at a time, a month at a time. It was never about what I’m going to do in 20 years time. I’m not as ambitious as that. I just take things day by day.