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Linda Rodin on Building Brand Authenticity in the Age of Social Media

The beauty icon shares how she created a beauty business by staying true to herself.
Fashionista's Beauty Editor Stephanie Saltzman and Linda Rodin. Photo: Arnold Soshkin/Fashionista 

Fashionista's Beauty Editor Stephanie Saltzman and Linda Rodin. Photo: Arnold Soshkin/Fashionista 

"There's not that many women my age who are the face of something," said Linda Rodin at last Friday's "How to Make It in Fashion" conference. True as that may be, there's not that many women period who have a career that can compare to 68-year-old Rodin's, who spent years as a stylist prior to founding her now-cult beauty company, Rodin Olio Lusso. In some ways, she is the OG beauty hipster — she began using her bespoke blend of face oil almost nearly a decade before oils became a major category within the skin-care industry. 

"I saw every product on the market, and I never seemed to relate to any of it," said Rodin, whose hero product, her Jasmine Neroli Face Oil, contains 11 different oils, including jojoba, rose hip and calendula. "I wanted my skin to have one simple product, and I made it literally in my bathroom, by myself, for myself."

Fast-forward to today, and Rodin's brand (which was acquired by Estée Lauder in 2014) now carries 14 unique products, including lipstick, body oil, perfume and candles. "If I'd known what the beauty industry is like, I probably wouldn't have done it," said Rodin. "But I did it, and I'm very happy I didn't plan it." And while it's understandable for brands to feel the pressure to launch products based on what's trending (is it just us or did everyone release a liquid lipstick this year?), that's not Rodin's style: "It all comes from what I need or want," she says. "That's why it's very limited and curated. It's just my version of things." 

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Speaking to our very own Stephanie Saltzman, Rodin also acknowledged the fact the industry has changed since her early days as a stylist; a major part of that has been social media, namely Instagram. "I think the first time I heard of Instagram was at a photo shoot, and a model said, 'We should Instagram your shoes,' and I said, 'What is Instagram?" she recalls. "It's just the best visual encyclopedia." However, Rodin was also quick to point out that the new currency of social-media presence can also be a disadvantage. "I think what is a little bit sad now is that if you don't have a million followers, no one wants to hire you," said Rodin. "But I try to keep it as personal and authentic as possible. I really have fun with it." 

As for what's next for Rodin? "We have a new oil coming out in a new scent, a new perfume and we have a lip liner to match the lipsticks," shares Rodin. "It's just going to be things I still need, [following] the same template: If I need it, I'm going to make it."

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