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Serena’s Latest Mission

Serena Williams has been signed as the newest spokeswoman for Mission Skincare.

Serena Williams has been signed as the newest spokeswoman for Mission Skincare, the seven-month-old personal care brand that has partnered with a number of mainstream athletes who have endorsed and taken equity stakes in the firm.

The tennis star, who appeared with sister Venus in Avon ads in 2001, joins a bevy of Mission Skincare athletes, including basketball players Steve Nash and Carmelo Anthony, soccer star Mia Hamm and triathlete Sarah Haskins — who all receive royalties. Other Mission athletes include swimmer Amanda Beard, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and skateboarder Ryan Sheckler.

At the moment, Josh Shaw, founder and chief marketing officer of New York-based Mission Products Holding Inc., is pursuing a National Football League player, who could be signed as early as this week, and is in talks with a golfer from the PGA Tour. He is also looking at Major League Baseball prospects.

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“We bring athletes on as equity partners,” he noted. “Every athlete has equity in the company and gets a royalty on the product they [help] create.” For instance, Bleiler and Sheckler were behind two of the brand’s new Lip Balmer SPF 15 lip balms, which were launched last month. Lip Balmers come in Orange, Sweet Vanilla and Mint flavors, and each is 3 grams for $3.99.

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Williams is fronting the fourth Lip Balmer, Pomegranate, which is due in April.

To form Mission Products Holding Inc., $2.5 million in investments were amassed early last year. After test-marketing five products priced from $3.99 to $12.99 (SPF 30 Daily Offense Face Stick, SPF 20 Lip Protector, Anti-Friction Cream, Revive Gel and Foot Synergy Gel) at 250 doors from June to the present, Shaw has implemented an aggressive business strategy.

Plans call for the Mission Skincare brand to be expanded to 5,000 stores by summer, including Champs Sports, Lady Foot Locker, City Sports, The Vitamin Shoppe, GNC and Canada’s Shopper’s Drug Mart. It’s also slated to launch on HSN and this month. Industry sources estimate such a business plan could yield at least $10 million by the end of this year.

Aside from Williams’ Pomegranate Lip Balmer, Shaw is further expanding the line beginning in March with sun sprays and a sun cream ($6.99 to $9.99). There also will be a fifth Lip Balmer fronted by a yet-to-be-finalized athlete, plus a moisturizer, a body wash, a muscle rub and a face cleanser, for summer-fall.