Sharapova launches candy line Sugarpova

Sharapova launches candy line Sugarpova

Published Apr. 13, 2013 11:25 p.m. ET

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Maria Sharapova is trying to take a simple nickname and turn it into a global brand.
The tennis star’s ambition has extended far beyond the courts and into the realm of business with the launch of her new candy line, Sugarpova. It’s the first big business venture for Sharapova.
“I really wanted to start something of my own, to start my own business,” Sharapova said. “When the name Sugarpova came about, I loved the energy of it. When we put it together with candy, I just felt like it was a great opportunity."

The line of gum and gummy candies debuted before the U.S. Open in 2012. It was only a soft launch and Sharapova tweaked some elements, designing the package and naming the candies before launching again. Sugarpova is carried in high-end boutiques, such as Tabula Rasa Essentials in Manhattan Beach, where she promoted the line on Saturday afternoon.  
Sharapova, who splits time between Manhattan Beach and Bradenton, Fla., posed for pictures and signed autographs with every last person in a line that extended nearly down to the pier.

Overwhelmed by the support of the community, Sharapova was reminded of how far she had come since the initial idea of a candy company.
“Seeing the line going all the way down to the strand is incredible,” Sharapova said. “When I sat in a meeting with Henri Bendel’s and they were like, ‘This is brilliant, we want to carry it.’ I was like, ‘Wow.’ This is pretty incredible that someone like Henry Bendel believes in it.”
For now, her focus with Sugarpova is selling it internationally. Stores in Paris and London have already picked it up and she is using social media to get feedback from her fans around the world.  
Sharapova acknowledges that fashion or perfume might have been a more expected choice but she is proud that she took a new path and found success.   
“It’s about adapting and understanding and working from there,” Sharapova said. “You’re building a brand from scratch with your own money and your own decisions. So there’s a lot on the line but I really like making those decisions.”

Sharapova has been a global icon for years. One of the most-endorsed athletes male or female, Forbes has listed her as the highest paid female athlete every year since 2006 and her deal with Nike was the largest-ever for a female. Nike, Tag Heuer and Cole Haan all have deals with Sharapova.
But up until now, all of her ventures have been with other companies. Her ambition has extended far beyond the court for quite some time and with Sugarpova, Sharapova finally has an entity to call her own.
“There’s something about seeing an idea come to life and being able to put it out on the shelf for people to see, appreciate, like and have opinions on,” Sharapova said. “I’ve worked every single day on it, I was at the factory, I was working really hard to get it to where it is today.
“I treat it as my baby.”