Tennis star Venus Williams is no stranger to wellness.
Now, with an investment in Asutra, Williams has taken her commitment one step further. She is also now chief brand officer at the company.
“I love their focus on active self care,” Williams said. “Obviously I live and breathe that, and I was able to use their products as a part of actively taking care of myself. I also love that their products work and they use all natural ingredients, so you can use the products for your mind, body and soul. That was a huge appeal for me and just fit right into my lifestyle.”
Asutra makes products including Chill Pain Away Magnesium CBD Cream, $34.50; Peaceful Lavender Yoga Mat Cleaner, $10.95, and Pure Soothing Comfort Aromatherapy Mist, $14.95. The brand’s products are meant to help customers “amp up their self-care time,” according to Stephanie Morimoto, the brand’s founder and chief executive officer. She had bootstrapped the business without outside investment until Williams came along, she noted.
“I’ve always been in that [wellness] realm. I grew up that way with my mom,” Williams noted. “She kind of grew up in California in the Seventies, so you know how that goes. It was all natural and that sort of thing, and even for my own health I do a lot of things that enhance my health to keep inflammation down, the way I eat and all of that.”
Beyond her experiences as an active user, Williams is bringing a history of entrepreneurship to Asutra. She already has two businesses, ath-leisure line EleVen and interior design business VStarr Interiors, and she said learnings from running those companies will help her in her role at Asutra.
“It’s an opportunity to collaborate with other people as well. I enjoy that. Tennis is a solo sport, so in my businesses I’ve found that opportunity to work with other people and to collaborate and share ideas and to push each other and that’s what I really look forward to,” Williams said.
Asutra has been growing since it launched in 2015. In the beginning it was sold mostly via its web site, but it has since expanded to CVS’ wellness test, and will soon roll out to more than 3,000 CVS doors, Morimoto said. Bestsellers include the Magnesium Healing line, lavender aromatherapy spray and weighted eye mask, which Morimoto noted has acupressure benefits. “People are really hungry for good sleep,” she said.
Williams, it seems, is one of those people. Her bedtime ritual includes Asutra’s lavender aromatherapy spray, Melt the Pain Away and Dream the Night Away, she said.
The pain relief cream is what drew Williams to the brand in the first place, she noted. “I came to Asutra as a customer…the more I learned about the company, the more intrigued I became.”
Williams is open to making other investments, she noted, but she has to balance them with her tennis career. “I have limited time because of the tennis, so I am very careful about what I get involved in because I want to give it my all and am invested in living up to the ideals of the products I’m associated with,” she said.
But further entrepreneurship is certainly a possibility. “[My dad] always encouraged us to be entrepreneurs and to own our own business so it was something which strangely enough I had to do to make my parents proud…I didn’t think of it at the time, but now that I think of it, yeah, they probably were proud,” Williams said.
She continues to be deeply involved in her other businesses, but is also taking on another project — her next style evolution.
“It’s important to reinvent yourself. I personally do it every two to three years. I’ll say, ‘Oh, I kind of want to do something new, be something different, change the way I look or I feel different,'” Williams said.
For the current iteration, she’s ditching eyeliner in favor of a more natural look. “I’m going to stay more neutral, I’m going to stay more sporty and more natural — less makeup. It’s going to be like denim and cottons and it’s still short stuff on a tennis player, but really cool tennis shoes and boots. Before it was like slinkier dresses, lots of eyeliner.…I want something fresh,” she said.
That style switch is unlikely to be funneled into EleVen, Williams said. “It’s not as much about me, it’s about everyone. If I design this would someone actually like to wear it? I have to take myself out of the equation a little bit and realize some things will be on the cutting-room floor.”
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