How Ana Ivanovic created and grew her cosmetic business

Ana Ivanovic was in the business of tennis until she retired at the end of the 2016 season. Born in Serbia, she rose to fame reaching the finals of the 2007 French Open and the 2008 Australian Open before her breakthrough title at Roland Garros in 2008. She was ranked No.1 for 12 weeks and finished her career with 15 singles titles and more than $15 million in prize money.

But traveling the world as a professional tennis player, Ivanovic subjected her skin to all kinds of dangerous opponents — searing sun, gusting wind and suffocating humidity, among others.

“Exactly,” she said recently from her home in Austria. “And that’s why I was always searching for the perfect skincare for myself. I also wanted something organic and sustainable — these things are becoming super-important, people are more and more aware of them.”

And so, Ivanovic decided to create her own line: Ana Ivanovic Natural Performance. She’s working with the Judith Williams Cosmetics team and has been operating out of the Cura Cosmetics offices in Innsbruck, only a one-hour drive from her home. The cosmetics business, she said, has been a bit more complicated than she had imagined.

She began by sitting down with the in-house pharmacists, stressing the need for hydration, something that she struggled with over the years. The recommendations, with an emphasis on natural ingredients, came back and the trials began — with Ivanovic as the final arbiter.

“They would do the formulations in the laboratory and then test the product and adjust the textures and the smell,” she said. “It’s really a lot of fine-tuning, which I did not expect. But everything matters — the texture, the way your skin absorbs it. So it was really a new process for me, a lot of learning along the way.”

The process, underway for more than a year and a half, has yielded six new products: eye cream, daily moisturizer, cleansing powder, hydration serum, refining serum and glow serum. The prices run from a 40-gram jar of cleansing powder for €6.95 to the three serums, 30-milliliter tubes, for €15.95.

Affordability was something she insisted on.

“For me,” said Ivanovic, who turns 35 on Nov. 6, “this was very important because there are so many mixed messages out there about what works, what doesn’t work. This was very important to create something that works, that people can actually trust and afford.

“So our target groups are, for the moment, the working moms, between 25 and 40. It was very important for me that everyone can try them and use them. My goal is getting people into an easy routine that takes like five minutes and they feel beautiful, that they feel nurtured and, yeah, that they feel comfortable in their skin.”

It’s worth noting Ivanovic’s business role model is American actress Jessica Alba, who co-founded the household-goods startup, The Honest Company, in 2011. Four years later, what began as an e-commerce subscription service for diapers and baby wipes became a company that raised $100 million with a $1.7 billion evaluation.

The face of the brand? It couldn’t have been anyone else.

“Well,” she said, “I feel like that’s my baby. That was the way we wanted to start, to bring awareness to my brand. It’s different from any product association I’ve had, since I’ve cultivated this product from the beginning.

“I’m really involved and know what I’m talking about. I’m learning rapidly about the cosmetic industry as well and I love to work and to be involved and engaged.”

The launch event was Sept. 15 in Berlin, Germany, and products are available in stores in Germany and Austria. In November, they’ll reach her native Serbia. Consumers can also find Ana Ivanovic Natural Performance products online at https://www.ana-natural-performance.com/.

The eventual goal is to reach the United States.

“I have so many friends from America, even Mexico, who are messaging me, asking for products,” Ivanovic said. “I would love to send them boxes, but it’s been really challenging at the moment, so we are working on that. We are hoping to grow and come to America. Tennis being such a worldwide sport, I have a lot of fans all over the world. So for me, it would be a dream come true to go to America.”

Tennis, of course, is still a big part of her life. She jokes with her close friends on the WTA Tour — Angelique Kerber, Sorana Cirstea and Kirsten Flipkens — that she can’t wait for them to retire so she can start playing them again.

In the meantime, she plays tennis mostly with her husband. Can Bastian Schweinsteiger, the man who played central midfielder for Bayern Munich for 17 years, a major figure in Germany’s victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup beat her on the court?

“Uhh…” she said, laughing. “No. Well, he can get maybe one or two games, but he gets a 30-love lead in each game. So that’s how we play — and then I don’t play 100 percent.”

But when the family chat group, including young sons Luka and Leon, gets together, that might not be readily apparent.

“It’s funny,” she said, “because he always asks, ‘Who’s the best in tennis?’ Who’s the best in tennis?’ And they always say `Daddy.’ It’s really amusing for me.”

Ivanovic has some serious advice for current players who might be thinking about getting into business.

“I think the important thing is if they have a goal one day to get into business, I would say talk to people and make connections and communications early on,” she said. “Because when you’re playing, you’re so focused on just your game and your team and all the sponsor visits, you’re very much in your own bubble still. And I would say to them: Get out of that bubble.

“Talk to people and you might get some new ideas, you might get new friendships and connections as well. This is something that can help you down the road.”

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