Nip + Fab Founder Talks Kylie Jenner Partnership and How to Build a Skincare Empire

NipFab Skincare
Kylie Jenner and Maria Hatzistefanis.

Maria Hatzistefanis, the lady entrepreneur behind UK-based Rodial Skincare and Nip + Fab, dishes on how she turned her fledgling businesses into global brands with a cult following.

Founder of Rodial skincare Maria Hatzistefanis won over the celebrity crowd fifteen years ago with her hilariously named and beautifully packaged skincare products. With offerings such as Dragon's Blood serum and Tummy Tuck body gel, it's easy to see why the likes of Emma Stone and Jennifer Lopez have used Rodial's products.

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Hatzistefanis' latest project, however, is Nip + Fab, a skincare line with a lower price point that still has all of the same quirks that drew a cult following to Rodial. Among those that can’t get enough of the line is Kylie Jenner, who was tapped as the brand's beauty ambassador earlier this year.

The collaboration between Jenner and Nip + Fab was one that began organically when the 17-year-old began posting her favorite products on Instagram and introducing her massive, beauty-obsessed social media following to the UK-based brand.

Like her success with Rodial, working with celebrities and coming up with one-of-a-kind, cleverly named products has helped Hatzistefanis’ grow Nip + Fab into an international success. But the process of getting there was no walk in the park.

“Everything started with snake serum,” says Hatzistefanis of her humble beginnings building Rodial into an well-known luxury skincare line. The beauty entrepreneur went on to discuss embracing the snake concept with an all-or-nothing attitude, sharing, “we had black matte packaging, we brought snakes into the studio and filmed them. And then we got a lot of buzz. But when you take that kind of risk your buzz can be both positive and negative. But they talked about it.”

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When the snake serum became a hit, Hatzistefanis continued the trend of using unique ingredients by introducing Dragon's Blood and Bee Venom, slowly growing her business from a one-woman show into a full-fledged business. 

"You need to be prepared to do everything, you know, whatever it takes," said Hatzistefanis of her modest early days at Rodial. Apparently, "whatever it takes" can also mean creative thinking in a pinch in order to project the image of a efficient, professional business. "I remember it was 1999 at my home office, kind of like the size of a cupboard," she recalls, "and I got a call and someone says, 'hi, this is Kylie Minogue’s PA,' — this is a year into the business — and so I said 'Hi, I’m Maria’s PA.'" Evidently, pretending to be your own personal assistant pays off. 

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In addition to the fake it till you make it mindset, the Greek-born entrepreneur — who began her business after stints in both beauty writing and banking — told Pret-a-Reporter that to launch a company you need to have a hand in every aspect of the business. And yes, that includes dealing with customers. "[Dragon's Blood] is our best-selling range. But we still get on social media, 'So, do you kill dragons and take their blood?'' You can't win them all.