Marie Kapetanakis Founder and CEO of Kosmea started her business with a dream, a drum of rose hip oil, a beautiful new suit and a battered old car. Having sold the ‘good’ family car to bootstrap her rose hip oil purchase, Marie originally went door to door with her product, parking the replacement ‘old bomb’ car out of sight of the potential customers she would visit.
With no marketing experience, and having spent years working as a waitress and a cleaner while raising her 3 children, Marie started her business from home based on an article she read on the healing properties of rose hip oil. Filled with determination, she contacted a Chilean supplier by fax and ordered her first drum of rose hip oil. She was profitable beyond expectations in her first year of business. 24 years later, Kosmea, which is an Ancient Greek name meaning harmony and balance, is sold in department stores, pharmacies and beauty salons around the world, as well as online.
You started your business in 1993 and personally visited 80 health food stores in South Australia so they could sample your rose hip oil. What lessons did you learn taking your product door to door that are still applicable today?
Passion is the number one lesson. Never lose it no matter what is going on around you and how many knock backs you may have. Another lesson is Karma, and understanding that everything you do has a knock on effect.
Have fantastic work ethic, and never slack off. Stay true to what you believe in and your desired outcome.
How have you steered Kosmea through the age of digital disruption?
Even though Kosmea was born in an era with no internet, we have kept pace with the digital space. Our first website was launched in 2006 and has been updated many times since then. We take the digital world seriously. You can’t afford not to, especially in the health and beauty space.
Did you have a mentor and what did they teach you?
I had many mentors along the way, but the mentor that really stands out is one I have now and have had since 2010. He guides me first on life lessons, which have a flow on effect to the business. One thing I have really appreciated about this teaching is work on yourself, and then your business will flourish. (And I don’t mean a physical work out)!
What words would people use to describe you as a leader?
The wonderful thing about becoming a leader in my work and personal life is that I can practice the skills of influencing and persuading others toward a common goal. I promote the principles of excellent teamwork by establishing my values and goals, determining my activities and then leading the action. My team would describe me a someone who can lead a team to knowing the common objective.
What’s been your greatest challenge?
It was back in the Spring of 1993, trying to convince my then husband to sell the family car so we could buy a drum of rosehip oil to start the business. Especially challenging when I wasn’t allowed to hold the purse strings in the household.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of what Kosmea has become today. A global natural and organic skin care brand that has never gone against its beliefs of having the best rosehip oil in the world, using the best quality ingredients to formulate the finest natural skin care products in the world, and therefore healing and repairing so many skin conditions and concerns.
That puts a smile on my face every day.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
The best piece of advice I could give to anyone is keep the passion alive. Never back down on your beliefs. Most of all, have fun whilst you’re doing it.
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