In her first fragrance collection, the tennis star Donna Vekić brings together Murano and Grasse, and part of the profits from selling candles will go towards bee conservation at the Kopački Rit Nature Park
The hotel room ritual after either winning or losing has been the same for years: relaxing with a warm bath and a scented candle. It helps clear her mind, analyse her moves in the field, fantasize about plans. Even though she is only 25, Donna Vekić is aware that her professional tennis player career will not last forever.
Just like she announced to her mom Brankica and dad Igor – who were track and field athlete and football player, respectively, when they were younger – that tennis was her calling in sports when she started elementary school, she was confident enough to get them involved in her new business.
How was DNNA Interior Fragrance created?
When I told my parents that I wanted to design an interior fragrance collection last November, they supported me, as they have always done, and we got right down to creating a business plan. We came up with the name DNNA quickly: it’s reminiscent of DNA, a unique trace within each of us, and that is what I want everyone to feel like when using my products. Special and unique, regardless of whether they know me or not.
When I close my eyes and want to bring my favourite fragrance to mind, I think back to the Baccarat in New York and the Dorchester in Beverly Hills. This is why DNNA will be partnering with the most prestigious hotels in Croatia and abroad, we can create unique fragrances for them and fit them into our collection, explained Donna Vekić
Most of your colleagues from the world of sports designed perfumes, what made you choose interior candles and incense sticks?
I travel a lot due to sports, I love beautiful interiors and scented candles are an integral part of my relaxation ritual. Even though the fragrance market is crowded, I see a good business opportunity there, one of an unlimited duration. I want to pursue this path alongside tennis and after it. I want to develop the DNNA brand in the direction of interiors and fragrances are merely a first step on this path. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved eating vanilla ice cream, it was my prize for behaving well. Vanilla is still my favourite flavour and scent and discovered new notes on different continents during my travels.
Why do your products come in handcrafted Murano glass bottles?
The quality of each segment of the product is a guarantee for me that everyone will truly enjoy the collection. I love reading about the wax a candle is made from, what I breathe in and whether a package is recyclable. Murano symbolises centuries-old glassblowing tradition. I was lucky enough to visit the wonderful island near Venice that has a special culture and I thoroughly enjoyed watching master glassmakers being fully immersed in their work. This is where I became aware of the true value of Murano glass and I look forward to visiting again because I haven’t tried my hand at glassblowing yet, which is by no means an easy process.
The audience mostly just sees the pretty side of each profession, but the path I have trod is anything but glamorous. This is why duality is at the core of DNNA: blood, sweat and tears lead to glamour, beauty and luxury, revealed Donna Vekić
What are the dominant notes in your collection?
A combination of relaxing and energising, sexy and mystic. The impression is subjective, of course, and I believe that this is where their true beauty lies. My first combination comprises five different scents: mango and vanilla, champagne and strawberry, field mint and mimosa, amber and cannabidiol, bergamot and patchouli. Hotels are my second home, so the ambiance I create for myself in my room is important. When I close my eyes and want to bring my favourite fragrance to mind, I think back to the Baccarat in New York and the Dorchester in Beverly Hills. This is why DNNA will be partnering with the most prestigious hotels in Croatia and abroad, we can create unique fragrances for them and fit them into our collection, so that each guest can take home a souvenir. We did our best to create a simple and educational web site www.dnna.eu, we love creating social media content and we use the #NotAnotherDonna hashtag to collect impressions from everyone loving our fragrances.
What was your impression of Grasse, a little town in Southern France, known as the world perfume capital, where you chose you essences?
Our partner perfumers quickly figured out my personality and bottled it successfully. The nature is beautiful there, I got additional inspiration by breathing in the smells of the lush landscape and seeing that I’ve travelled my whole life, it was important for me to include ingredients from my favourite parts of the world into this. So patchouli comes from Indonesia, vanilla from Madagascar, mimosa from Morocco and mint from India.
Who is the ‘nose’ behind the DNNA collection?
Mom Brankica (laughs)! This is how the entire team calls her, but the fragrances were created by expert perfumer Arnaud Fourre.
How does winning or losing a match affect your selection of fragrance for relaxing?
I need time to rest after both so I like to light a candle as soon as I get back to my room. Combined with a fragrant bath, this is my version of a perfect night and relaxation for the soul. The audience mostly just sees the pretty side of each profession, but the path I have trod is anything but glamorous. This is why duality is at the core of DNNA: blood, sweat and tears lead to glamour, beauty and luxury. All the stages I go through are only witnessed by my friends and closest friends, they know both my stubborn side, but also the gentle one that can take criticism and advice into account.
I love the Croatian coast. I love spending time aboard a yacht and cruising around our gorgeous islands. I love the sun, the sea and our delicious food, described Donna Vekić
Which place do you consider your home: Osijek or Monaco?
Osijek is where I was born, my family lives there and I always go back to it. I am proud to be the ambassador of continental tourism for the Osijek–Baranja County and I am particularly happy that the first public tennis court was opened in Osijek at my initiative, free for all and intended primarily for children and the young. It will give them a chance to play more and therefore fall in love with tennis. Monaco is home, I train there and prepare for new challenges.
What do you make of the fact that the use of interior fragrances has grown significantly over the past year?
Taking care of your health has been prioritized above all else. The pandemic has forced us to spend a lot of time indoors and this encouraged many people to think about what they breathe in and how their homes can be refreshed. Naturally, I am also concerned about the adverse environmental effects, so I insisted that our candles be made using pure beeswax that is the only one with ionising and purifying properties, and that wicks are made from paper, not lead.
I am fascinated by bees, these hardworking little creatures that provide oxygen, honey and wax. This was the reason why we started the DNNA for Bees action – profits from each candle sold go towards the bee community, making their lives in their home – Kopački Rit Nature Park – easier.
What is your ideal version of summer that does not include tennis?
It’s very simple. I love the Croatian coast. I love spending time aboard a yacht and cruising around our gorgeous islands. I love the sun, the sea and our delicious food. The day draws to a close, the sun sets, the breeze, enjoying the dusk with the scent of DNNA candles on a yacht… Take me there now!
Secundus is a newly built 4-cabin luxury motor yacht on the market. As any Sanlorenzo yacht, she is immediately recognizable, at first glance.
Text Dubravka Tomeković Aralica
Photos Šime Eškinja, Jimmie48 tennis photography & Alen Večanin