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Maria Sharapova Aims for the Sweet Spot

Published: April 30, 2013 (Issue # 1757)



  • Sharapova blowing a kiss in a marketing photo for her Sugarpova line of candies. The tennis pro wants to share her love of candy with the world.
    Photo: for spt

For her first truly independent venture outside of a tennis court, Maria Sharapova is relying on familiar tools: high heels, her cover-girl lips and neon green tennis balls.

But shes not starting a designer shoe or lipstick brand, nor is she opening a tennis school. Instead, the budding entrepreneur and four-time Grand Slam winner has turned these parts of her golden image into shapes for a line of premium, bite-sized chewy candy.

For someone known for her punishing groundstrokes on the tennis court and elegant style on the red carpet, candy was not an obvious choice for a first foray into business. But all the pieces came together.

When I moved to the United States, I was about 7 years old, and I went to a movie theater and found a huge collection of gummy candies, Sharapova told The St. Petersburg Times in a phone interview, speaking from Los Angeles on Saturday, the day after her 26th birthday. Id never seen anything like it in Russia. I was fascinated by the idea, and the first thing I thought was: I cant wait for my friends to see something like this!

When the name Sugarpova came about in a meeting a few years ago, I felt like it was fun and young, she said. Then I put candy and that together, and thats kind of how it started.

Colorful packages of the sweets, which come in 12 varieties including Flirty (pieces shaped like sets of full, pursed lips), Chic (gummy handbags and high-heeled shoes), and Spooky Sour (sugar-coated spiders), first went on sale in the U.S. last year and have since entered stores in five other countries, including Britain and Japan. Sharapova was due to visit Moscow on Monday for an event at the high-end Lotte Plaza shopping mall to mark the start of sales in Russia.

Born in the Siberian town of Nyagan, Sharapova spent her early childhood in Sochi, which she described as the most beautiful place in the world. She has relatives who still live in Russia and said the local market was on her radar for Sugarpova from the outset.

I think Russians appreciate quality very much, Sharapova said. We all know that they like brands and they like names, but at the end of the day, I think theyre very good at differentiating whats a good product and whats not a good product.

Sharapova spoke in English with the faintest of Russian accents but with the openness and geniality Americans are known for.

As a Sochi native and a Russian Olympian at the 2012 Summer Games in London, she became the first female flag-bearer for the Russian squad and won the silver medal in womens singles she is particularly excited about the 2014 Winter Games, and not just because shes proud that theyll be in her hometown.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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