When Maria Sharapova moved to the United States from Russia at age 7, she was fascinated by all the fun, wacky candy she saw at the stores and movie theaters.
The idea was planted. Eighteen years later, the top-ranked tennis player has launched her own addictively poppable sweets.
Sugarpova is a collection of gummies, gumballs and licorice-type candies that come in colorfully designed, clear resealable bags. Each one has a name. A top seller is Chic, gummies in the shapes of purses and high-heeled shoes.
“I was actually involved in the drawing of those,” said Sharapova during a launch party at IT Sugar at the Shops of Sunset Place. “Right there on the drawing board. The heels were too thin, I had to make them chunkier.”
The six-foot-two blonde stunner was involved in other parts of the process at the factory in Spain —packaging, marketing and of course, tasting. Her personal favorite isn’t Sporty (gumballs that look like mini tennis balls), it’s Quirky.
“I’m usually not a fan of licorice, but this is sweet with marshmallow middle, so it’s softer. I feel like I discovered this.”
Since her name is front and center, Sharapova wanted to make sure everything was done right.
“It was a long process,” said the part time Bradenton resident. “It took about two years but I love how it all came together, from the tongue-in-cheek names to what the candies are like.”
If she had to choose between being a tennis star and a candy entrepreneur? Not possible.
“They’re such different businesses,” said Sharapova, who also designs shoes for Cole Haan. “I love tennis because it’s so competitive. I’m very lucky to have gotten to experience both.”