As the color cosmetics category continues to grow, thanks in large part to newer entrants like Kylie Cosmetics and Pat McGrath Labs, Maria Hatzistefanis, CEO of London-based beauty brands Rodial and Nip + Fab, is hoping to delve deeper into the segment with Rodial. Launched in 1999 and still privately owned by Hatzistefanis, Rodial is best known for its skin-care products with innovative ingredients, like its Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Moisturizer, with dragon’s blood (a tree sap known for reducing redness and irritation), and Snake Serum O2 product, featuring a snake-venom-inspired peptide.
The company, which claims more than 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2018, started inching into makeup four years ago and is making a bigger push in 2019. This year, it will offer an expanded makeup palette assortment, bring more color cosmetics products to the U.S. market from the U.K. and flex its retail partnership strategy.
“Makeup presents a real opportunity for us to grow the business. We want to respond to trends, but we have to do it in a luxury way and not just in a millennial way,” she said. Hatzistefanis is on trend: According to market research firm Euromonitor International, the $66 billion global color cosmetics category will experience a 21 percent growth by 2022.
Hatzistefanis spoke with Glossy about Rodial’s updated product and business strategy, her focus on third-party partnerships and her plans to expand the beauty brand beyond the U.S. and the U.K.
Why are you refocusing the Rodial business around makeup in 2019?
We launched cosmetics four years ago, and this category has had the biggest growth for us. In retail accounts where we carry both skin and makeup, the split of the business is 50 percent. Within the makeup range, we have identified a few cult best-sellers that are routinely sold out on our own site. One is our Glamolash Mascara XXL, which has collagen in it, and is the best-selling mascara at Space NK, Bluemercury and Planet Beauty. It’s been really amazing to see something become a hero product in such a short amount of time. Other products we’ve seen a lot of traction with include our Instaglam Compact Deluxe Banana Powder, which is a finishing powder or a highlighter, and our eyeshadow and face palettes.
Rodial color products are only in a select number of retailers. How will that change in the months ahead?
The growth plan for Rodial is through makeup. Rodial is available in 2,000 stores worldwide with skin care, and only about 20 percent of those stores carry makeup, so the opportunity for the business is to roll out our color cosmetics to the other 80 percent of those stores that know our brand, but don’t know us for makeup. In the U.S. is where we have the biggest penetration of makeup: We are in full distribution in Planet Beauty’s 40-plus stores, and this year, we are rolling out distribution to Bluemercury’s 138 locations, so that will give us massive reach. We are going into more Space NKs, too; we are only in 10 stores right now, but we plan to be in all 40 doors. We have to really work the distribution channel here and leverage our existing relationships. We think makeup could be 50-60 percent of our overall business, but it’s a process that we think will take from 12 months to 24 months.
How have your partnerships helped grow the Rodial business overall?
Whenever I read the news, I continue to hear about all these new, millennial brands that are going direct-to-consumer, and that may be the trend, but now those same brands are opening pop-up stores or trying to enter select retailers because they see they need to develop a better, deeper customer relationship. Our direct business accounts for 20 percent of sales, and our retail partnerships account for 80 percent. The Rodial customer is one that starts in her late 20s and early 30s, and goes up to her 60s. She doesn’t shop online-only; she likes to shop online occasionally. She likes the experience of trying the product in her stores, so we have to go where our customer is, and for us, it is the store.
How are you planning to expand your makeup assortment?
Our partners have really loved our palettes and have been asking for more elevated options, whether it’s through the color itself or packaging, where we use vegan leather. We are launching four new palettes in 2019, three eyeshadow palettes and a multi-use product for face, eyes and skin. Also, we are bringing our Collagen Boost Lip Lacquers to the states this month, and our Microblade Eyebrow Pencils are coming to the U.S. in February.
How are your skin-care product offerings and business expanding in step with color cosmetics?
In the spring [of 2018], we launched our Vit C collection, which is a four-product range dedicated to one sole ingredient, Vitamin C. It was about offering the highest-quality, positive ingredients, and it sold out on our site in one week. The biggest launches in skin care this year will be an expansion of that range centered on leave-on treatment products, [like] a Vitamin C booster, a day and eye cream, and a tonic. We think we can continue to grow skin-care by focusing on ingredients. We discontinue older products all the time, especially when we think we can offer something better for our customers in terms of innovation. We also want to grow skin care from a new market perspective, because that continues to be the trend around the world.