Having cultivated a love of candy at an early age, tennis superstar Maria Sharapova is putting her money where her mouth is. With an initial investment of $500,000, the 6’2” Russian beauty has seen her enterprise Sugarpova launch into success.
With the practice of a candy bar or lollipop as a reward for a good practice in childhood, a sweet tooth would follow her into a tennis career that saw her claim Wimbledon at the tender age of 17 years old. Dedicated she was in this venture as she would do final taste tests at the factory less than a day after winning the French Open. While Sugarpova is still in its infancy, the premium candy line features brightly colored gummies that have such tween-friendly names as Flirty, Splashy, Smitten Sour, Quirky and Sporty.
Of all the flavors, Sharapova’s favorite is actually Quirky. The candy is part of the licorice family but it has a marshmallow center and a sweet rainbow appearance on the outside. Manufactured in Murcia, Spain, the product was first launched in the United States. To coincide with the 2013 Australian Open, Sharapova launched the product in Melbourne to coincide with the grand slam event.
Ironically, she was not the one who came up with the name for the candy brand. Although she devoted 18 months of research and analysis into making the venture a reality, the genius behind the name was Jeff Rubin, co-founder of Dylan’s Candy Bar and the creator of FAO Schweetz (sold in FAO Schwartz stores).
Her agent at IMG Tennis, Max Eisenbud pulls double duty as Sugarpova’s Chief Executive Officer. Not only has he forecasted sales of one million bags of candy in the first year, but has mentioned profits on sales of each bag should reach $1.10. Of note, an undisclosed percentage of sales shall be donated to the Maria Sharapova Foundation.
As the tenth woman to capture the Grand Slam of Tennis, the sexy superstar may have a hit on her hands. With her appeal as a beautiful yet well-spoken and articulate athlete, her star status alone may help launch the Sugarpova brand into one of the most popular candies in the world.
While Sharapova has ambitions to launch into other passions such as cosmetics and fashion (there is no denying she looks like a fashion model), the motivation for Sugarpova stemmed from the fact that she had been involved with so many projects, collaborations and photo shoots, she wanted something that was completely her own.
Retailing at $5.99 per bag, the true test in determining the shelf life and viability of the product will be determined in its taste and quality. Being sold at upscale retailers such as Henri Bendel and famous department store Macy’s in the United States, Selfirdge’s in the United Kingdom and Colette in Paris.
Prior to the 2013 US Open, reports suggested that Sharapova made an application to the Supreme Court of Florida in order to temporarily change her name to Sugarpova. While it is debatable whether she would have actually gone through with the name change, her agent claimed it would have caused travel difficulties; it still generated a remarkable amount of publicity.
Despite withdrawing from the event due to shoulder complications, the stir that the proposed name change caused in the news cycle made it a hot topic of debate among sports fans. Perhaps the biggest irony of the whole name change was the fact that Sharapova appeared on the cover of the September 2013 edition of Shape Magazine, which was on sale at newsstands. From promoting candy to being featured in a magazine discussing fitness and weight loss, it is a clash in societal values as obesity is one of the biggest problems among the young population.