As one of the world’s most famous supermodels, Natalia Vodianova is known for many things. And recently, the Russia-born mom-of-five has been adding another string to her bow as a tech investor. After backing several successful ventures, her latest investment is an app called Loóna which is aimed at helping people sleep soundly—and tackle their stress-related insomnia—by coloring in immersive and stunning ‘Sleepscapes’. We caught up with the legendary beauty to hear what keeps her wellbeing in check, and we even got to take a quick trip down memory lane…
How/when did you first hear about Loóna and what drew you to invest?
I know two of the founders, Eugene and Sergey, as we invested together in another app, flo. I also knew that the founding team behind Loóna had sold another company to Facebook and had an incredible track record. When I heard of the new company they were building, I knew and trusted the founders, and then the product itself has something very interesting to offer in the oversaturated wellness app market. This was really something different—the idea of Sleepscapes—which combine guided coloring and ambient music. I find it really activates all your senses and distracts you from the things you were carrying with you throughout your day. By then they had tested the product with a few users, and the feedback was phenomenal!
How did you originally progress from modeling into an investor in the tech space? Was technology something that always interested you?
I was already a very successful model, when in 2004 terrorists attacked a school in Beslan, Southern Russia. The shock and unfairness and brutality of this tragedy deeply touched me, and this darkness and ultimate evil inspired me to start the charity organization The Naked Heart Foundation. During the last 15 years, we have raised more than €50 million for people with special needs in Russia and building playparks for children across the country. I loved that I was able to use my profile as a model for good and I quickly followed that chartable venture with Elbi—an app that aims to democratize philanthropy by allowing users to financially support over 70 charities in 80 countries as easily and quickly as clicking a button on their phone. We knew we’d clearly done something right when Apple featured Elbi as an app of the day in more than 70 countries. Soon after, other social entrepreneurs started approaching me and my business partner Timon Afinsky asking us to advise them on how to grow their purpose propositions. Advice often leads to investment and that’s how I’ve come to invest in some cutting-edge tech platforms.
Why do you find investing fulfilling?
Investing allows me to empower people who are looking to make this world a bit better. This [applies to] both the people and companies I invest in—a goal to make a positive change—but also in the products and ideas they’re introducing to the world which in turn help others. This is why I’ve invested time and energy in Loóna, as an app that provides its users with a one-of-a-kind experience and cultivates the right mindset for sleep and helps establish a soothing bedtime wellbeing ritual. Loóna is the perfect example of the type of investment that made me transition from modeling to investing because Loóna can help anyone and everyone.
What makes it special?
What I love the most about Loóna is that absolutely anyone can use it. I use it alone, with my husband, and with my kids. Before putting my phone away for the night, I love to complete one of the app’s soothing ‘Sleepscapes’ (the combination of guided coloring activity with soothing storytelling.) For me it is the perfect way to say goodnight to my phone for the evening and it puts me in a more relaxed mood before getting ready to sleep.
What’s your own relationship with sleep like? Do you have your bedtime routine perfected?
You know, I do get exhausted during the day. Usually, when the kids are in school, I wake up a 7AM and by the time I have a full day of work and get them to bed, I am absolutely exhausted. I try to switch off my phone around 9PM to really get into a place before bed where I don’t see any messages or information that could make me anxious. Before bed, my husband and I like to read, play chess, or watch an episode of TV—although we have cut back on TV as sometimes it doesn’t feel like the best way to spend the few hours we have to ourselves!
What are your other non-negotiables to ensure a good night’s sleep?
I follow a rule my grandmother instilled in me from a young age: ‘The morning brings wisdom’. It is in Russian of course, so that is not the exact translation, but when something is worrying me at night, the idea is to sleep on it and tomorrow it won’t be as difficult with a fresh mind and a good night’s sleep. Often I even wake up with a solution!
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
I am definitely a night owl…one that is forced to wake up early every day! If I had the choice, I would stay up late and sleep in late. When my children go to bed, I have time and energy for myself, however my husband is the opposite—a total early bird! The fact that he goes to bed earlier than me helps balance me out and motivates me to not stay up too late.
What other wellness rituals are essential to you?
My relationship with nature, walking, hiking, and mushroom picking in the forest—nature is very healing. I also mediate daily, which I find really helpful. Most importantly, I stay positive. I do believe that happiness and positivity are a choice you make. It’s not something I always knew, but something I learned. Obviously, there are moments when you are not happy, but otherwise it is a process. Every day is a fight against negativity and negative emotions. We are preprogrammed to have these negative emotions and doubts, and positivity is a ritual I practice every day which has been very enriching in my life.
Apart from Loóna, what other apps can you not live without?
I have actually invested several apps that I absolutely can’t live without are: PicsArt—a photo and video editing app. Flo—a period tracking app. E-gree—an app that makes creating contracts easy.
I just found this copy of The Daily mini with you on the cover from 2006 in the office! What do you remember about this time?
In 2006, my daughter was just born, and I had been dreaming of having a baby girl. She in now 14 (below) and the only girl of my five children. 2006 was a beautiful year because of her and I was at the peak of my career. I also cut my hair into a bob—a haircut I miss sometimes!
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« live radiant day! Perish darkness and night! » Puchkine ❤️ ВАКХИЧЕСКАЯ ПЕСНЯ Что смолкнул веселия глас? Раздайтесь, вакхальны припевы! Да здравствуют нежные девы И юные жены, любившие нас! Полнее стакан наливайте! На звонкое дно ,В густое вино Заветные кольца бросайте! Подымем стаканы, содвинем их разом! Да здравствуют музы, да здравствует разум! Ты, солнце святое, гори! Как эта лампада бледнеет Пред ясным восходом зари, Так ложная мудрость мерцает и тлеет Пред солнцем бессмертным ума. Да здравствует солнце, да скроется тьма! #ура #пушкин #считаюсчастье ❤️🙏❤️
Loóna is available on iOS, Android and in the Google Play app stores. Visit Loóna.app for more information.