Maria Hatzistefanis spent years working in the corporate world before a wake-up call allowed her to find her calling
I grew up in Greece, moved to NYC to go to college and now I live in London. Living in NY was amazing, the city has an energy to it that is like no other, it is like a second home to me. I attended Columbia University and studied business. I ended up working in banking but it wasn’t my passion and I got myself fired. That was the best thing that ever happened to me and led me to start Rodial.
It sounds crazy but I think that being fired from my job in banking was the turning point in my life. I explore this in my book, ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’. I was in a career that I wasn’t passionate about and I needed the wake up call to take the risk to start my own brand.
There have been so many! I think back to when I started Rodial, one of the challenges of not being a big corporate company is that people are not as likely to give you a shot. It was hard to get my products into the big department stores, I had to hustle every single day to get meetings and get buyers to take Rodial seriously. It took me seven years to get into the department store of my dreams. I was rejected time after time but I persevered and made that happen in the end!
I think that Anna Wintour is really inspirational and has done things her own way for her whole career. I really respect that in female leaders. One of the key things about being a leader is always keeping a positive attitude even when things don’t go your way. I am now mentoring young entrepreneurs via my involvement with the British Fashion Council or informally with love Q&As on my @MrsRodial Instagram account.
Opening the first Rodial counter in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge in London was a really special moment. Seeing so many years of hard work come together in an iconic store was amazing. Also, publishing my first book ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’, was a really memorable moment for me. I love to tell my story and inspire people, so to see such a great reaction to my book was really great.
Develop a thick skin and keep going. You have to be prepared to hear the word ‘no’. You have to be ready to be doubted. You cannot let these types of disappointments take you off track, starting your own business is not straightforward. There are going to be obstacles along the way but you have to be strong enough to overcome them in order to reach your goals.