Picture Perfect: After Finding Success, This Founder Shares Why She Splurged on an Iconic Photo of Faye Dunaway

The founder of beauty brand Rodial explains why a famous picture of the actress inspired her on her entrepreneurial journey.
Picture Perfect: After Finding Success, This Founder Shares Why She Splurged on an Iconic Photo of Faye Dunaway
Image credit: Dylan Thomas
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Executive Editor
3 min read

This story appears in the July 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Like many entrepreneurs, Maria Hatzistefanis began her journey when she got fired from a good job she couldn’t stand. The Greek-born Hatzistefanis had studied business at Columbia University and, after graduation, taken a job in banking. It went well until it didn’t -- “My passion wasn’t there,” she says. She soon found herself out of work.

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“I was devastated, but it was actually the best thing that ever happened to me,” Hatzi­stefanis says, “because it made me think harder about what I wanted to become.”

Hatzistefanis had previously worked as a beauty writer for Seventeen magazine. Looking back, she realized that was closer to her real passion. So she set out to launch her own beauty brand, Rodial. Investors weren’t interested, so she bootstrapped it. “I put all my savings into the business and started it from a bathroom at home, doing everything from going to the manufacturers to coming up with the product to selling my products to stores,” she says. “I was a one-woman show from the beginning.”

In those days, Hatzistefanis held her meetings in a coffee shop by her apartment in London. On the way there every day, she’d walk by a small gallery’s window display of Terry O’Neil’s iconic photo of actress Faye Dunaway, taken the morning after she won an Oscar for Network in 1977. Hatzistefanis loved it. 

Related: Success Comes When You've Mastered Your Mindset

Image Credit: Dylan Thomas
“It has a calmness about it -- which is the feeling you get when you’ve worked really hard and you’ve achieved something. And I can see the glamour; I can see the beauty of it all,” she says. “It was very inspiring. I told my husband, ‘One day I will be successful and I will buy this picture, because it portrays everything I want to become.’ ”
After several years of strong growth at Rodial, Hatzistefanis finally got her chance. She bought the print and hung it in her living room. Since then Rodial has only grown, now encompassing more brands and bringing in around $30 million in annual revenue. And the photo maintains its place of honor. “Every morning I have my coffee and look at it, and I remember how I started,” Hatzistefanis says. “The hard work, the challenges. At the end of the day, moments like this make it all worth it.”

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