Sara Blakely is an American entrepreneur, the founder of Spanx, a billion-dollar intimate apparel company, which opened initially for women. She is one of the most innovative and powerful women entrepreneurs in the world. Her entrepreneurial journey is an inspiring story of perseverance, innovation, and success. Let us take a look into the life of this lady.
|Born||February 27th, 1971 in |
|Title||Founder and owner|
|Net worth||$1.1 billion|
Sara Blakely’s early life
Sarah Blakely was born on February 27th, 1971 in Clearwater, Florida. She was born into a Christian family to Ellen Blakely, an artist, and John Blakely, a trial attorney. Sara attended Clearwater High School, Florida, with her brother Ford Blakely, who is also an artist. She did higher studies at Florida State University with a degree in Communication.
Sara Blakely’s Career Before SPANX
The start of her career was not very pleasant or successful. She initially planned on becoming an attorney but due to scoring very low on the Law School Admission Test, she was not able to go ahead with that plan, instead, she accepted a job at Walt Disney World, Orlando. She also worked as a stand-up comedian during this period. After working at Disney World for three months, she accepted a job at Danka, where she sold fax machines door-to-door, in which she was quite successful. At 25, She was promoted to national sales trainer. At 27, she was reallocated to Atlanta, Georgia, by Danka. That was when she started to develop and work towards the idea of hosiery.
The origin and growth of SPANX – one of the greatest shapewear brand for
With no absolute background in fashion or manufacturing, Sara was determined to bring her idea to life. So with an idea in mind and a strong will, she drove to North Carolina, the location with the most hosiery mills in America to pitch her idea. However, it was turned down by almost everyone as they were used to dealing with bigger companies and did not see potential in her idea. One of the manufacturers even thought that he was being pranked.
However, two weeks after her North Carolina trip, she received a call from a mill owner in Asheboro. He offered to support her idea, after receiving strong encouragement from his three daughters, who strongly supported Sara’s idea.
Over the course of one year the first prototype was completed. She managed to meet with the Neiman Marcus Group, which resulted in her products being sold at 7 Neiman Marcus stores. Bloomingdale’s, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman followed closely after. To promote her product, she sent a couple of her products to Oprah Winfrey, with a gift card explaining
What she attempted to do.
In 2000, Oprah Winfrey named Spanx as “one of my favorite things.” Which helped the brand gain popularity and skyrocket sales. The revenue of $4 million in the first year reached the revenue of $10 million in the second year.
She made a deal with the TV shopping channel ib 2001 with QVC which helped to boost sales and expanded the brand’s footprint in the market.
she was cast on a reality TV show named The Rebel Billionaire by Richard Branson in 2001, who also gave her $750,000, which helped her start the Spanx by Sarah Blakely Foundation to give education and entrepreneurial training to women.
In 2013, She became the first woman to join the Giving Pledge by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
In 2014, she became the youngest self-made female billionaire according to Forbes.
After the sale of Spanx was hindered by COVID-19 In October 2021, the Blackstone Group acquired a majority stake in Spanx. Valuing the company at $1.2 billion.
How did Sara Blakely get the idea of Spanx?
While working with Danka, Sara had to wear pantyhose in the hot Floridian weather. She hated how they looked with her open-toed sandals but liked the way it made her figure appear but the inspiration of Spanx hit later on when she was getting ready for a party. She wanted to wear cream-colored pants but couldn’t find the right undergarments that would provide the same smooth look under tight-fitting clothes. This led her to cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose, which gave her the desired effect. This gave
her the idea of a comfortable and slimming undergarment that would be invisible under clothing. She was even more intent on her goal after she got to know that this field of business was male-dominated, with people who didn’t wear those garments themselves.
How and why did Sara choose the name SPANX?
While choosing the name for her brand, “Spanks” was the word that came to her mind but she had to replace the “ks” with an “x”, as her research showed that constructed names were more successful and were easier to register as a trademark. She then used her credit card to buy the “SPANX” trademark for $150.
Sara Blakely’s appearance on television
In 2005, Sara was a contestant on the Rebel Billionaire, the reality television series which brought her close to Richard Branson who supported her to achieve her dreams and goals as an entrepreneur and Philanthropist.
She stood second position in the show with Shawn Nelson as the winner. As an encouragement, Richard handed over $750,000 for her to start her charity. With his help, she donated $1 million to Oprah Winfrey’s Oprah Winfred Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa school.
Other than being a contestant on the television series, she has also made a debut in television as one of the judges on ABC’s reality television series, American Inventor, alongside George Foreman and Pat Croce.
Some Important life and leadership lessons given by Sara Blakely
1) Embracing failure – In an interview with “The Entrepreneur,” she talked about how her father Helped her develop this mind-set. She said, “My dad encouraged us to fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn’t have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mind-set at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.” One of the ways Sara deal with her employee is by telling them her mistakes, encouraging them to make mistakes, and then learning from them. Employees share their mistakes during the “oops meetings”
2) Not to take ourselves too seriously – New employees at Spanx are required to do stand-up Comedy as part of a training boot camp. It encourages them to feel less intimidated and to let go while embracing fun as part of the Spanx experience. Ever since the beginning of the complete, she has kept everything light-hearted and fun. Humor can be a powerful leadership strategy, according to research from Harvard and Wharton, so Therefore it doesn’t make Sara’s way ineffective as many of you may think.
3) Be relentless – Sara spent two years trying to convince manufacturers to take a chance on her but she kept hearing the word “no” She said, “I must have heard the word ‘no’ a thousand times. If you believe in your idea 100 percent, don’t let anyone stop you! Not being afraid to fail is a key part of the success of Spanx.
4) Learn how to work within a budget – When Sara Blakely started SPANX, she spent $0 on Marketing and advertising, instead, she focused on building network and social connections. She worked within a small budget because she had no funding and did everything on her own. She sent her products to Oprah Winfrey because she knew her target audience. Instead of spending tons of money on affiliate marketing, ads, etc. She focused on building a network.
Books recommended by Sarah Blakely
1) Living With A Seal written by her husband, Jesse Itzler
2) Think like Aaron Sansoni
3) Audiobook of How to Be a No Limit Person by Wayne Dyer
Awards and recognition
Here are a few of the awards and recognition Sara has received in her career as an entrepreneur:
She was named the Youngest Female Self-made Billionaire by Forbes in 2012.
In 2014, She was named the Time’s Top 100 Influential Women.
she became the first woman to join The Giving Pledge in 2014.
As of 2023, Sara Blakely’s net worth is estimated to be $1.1 billion.
Philanthropic efforts made by Sara Blakely
In addition to her entrepreneurial pursuits, Sara Blakely is known for her philanthropy and dedication to empowering women. Sara has been actively involved in philanthropic initiatives.
She founded the Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006, which focused primarily on empowering and supporting women through education and entrepreneurship.
She also signed The Giving Pledge In 2013, committing to donate at least half of her wealth to charitable causes, which made her the first woman to be a part of The Giving Pledge.
In 2006, she donated $1 million to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
she pledged on giving away $5,000,000 to support female-run small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic In 2020.
Personal life of Sarah Blakely
In 2008, at the age of 37, Sara married Jesse Itzler, the co-founder of Marquis Jet in Boca Grande in Florida, U.S.A, author and former rapper.
The couple first met at an at a poker tournament, as a customer of his company Marquis jet. After their first meet, they emailed back and forth for 7 months before officially dating.
Together, they have four children and she is a convert to Judaism from Christianity. Today, they are the admired power couple in the industry that preach people on entrepreneurship and successful relationships.
Lesser known facts about Sara Blakely
1) She was introduced to death at an early age by the time she was 30, she had already lost 11 people close to her. At 16, she saw her friend getting struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle. These experiences made her realize that life was short and her dreams could not wait.
2) While working for Danka, she learned a lot about humans and realized there were 4 types of humans: socializers, relaters, directors, and thinkers. She being a socializer and director found it hard to communicate with thinkers, who thought a lot and carefully weighed the pros and cons before making a decision.
3) She is highly afraid of heights, Flying, and public speaking and is yet to overcome them.
4) Sara wanted to follow her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer but due to her low score in Law School Admission Test she changed her mind.
5) She herself tested out one of the first prototypes of her invention, which simply a pantyhose with feets removed.
6) She wrote her own patent for her brand out of a textbook from Barnes and nobles to save herself $3000.
7) She is a magnet of semi-nudity, which means women flash their SPANX at her in appreciation when out in the public!
8) Her success story is written in a book called “The SPANX Story: what’s underneath the incredible success of sara blakely’s billion dollar empire.
9) She is a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks a basketball team based in Atlanta.
Famous and inspiring quotes said by Sara Blakely
It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you becomeSara Blakely
Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can becomeSara Blakely
your greatest asset.
You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a Polaroid picture ofSara Blakely
where you’re going to be in a few years.
There is always a hidden blessing in the most traumatic things we go through in our lives.Sara Blakely
Failure is not attached to outcome, but in not trying. This way, it is about answering to yourselfSara Blakely
Sara Blakely’s entrepreneurial journey is a perfect example that shows the power of determination, creativity, and resilience. From finding a solution to a simple idea, she built a billion-dollar company and revolutionized and made a significant impact in the shapewear industry, especially for women. Throughout her journey, she has demonstrated immense determination, creativity, and resilience, transforming herself from a struggling saleswoman to a self-made billionaire. Her life is a testament to the power of perseverance, innovation, and dedication. From her humble beginnings as a struggling saleswoman to a self-made billionaire, she has left an indelible mark on the fashion industry and has become a symbol of female empowerment and entrepreneurship. Her story serves as an inspiration for all entrepreneurs and individuals striving to make a difference in the world.
Sara Blakely is an American businesswoman and entrepreneur who is best known as the founder of Spanx.
Sara Blakely was born on February 27, 1971.
Before starting Spanx, she worked as a door-to-door fax machine salesperson and later as a stand-up comedian.
The idea for Spanx came to Sara Blakely when she was getting ready for a party and realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to create a smooth look under her white pants. She cut the feet the pantyhose and wore them under her pants, which provided a slimming effect and inspired her to create her own line of hosiery.
Sara Blakely started working on the concept for Spanx in late 1998. She launched the company in 2000 with just $5,000 in savings.
Sara was 27 years old when she started working on SPANX.
Spanx has been highly successful, becoming one of the leading brand in the shapewear and intimate apparel industry.
Yes, Sara Blakely is involved in philanthropy through her Sara Blakely Foundation. The foundation focuses on supporting and empowering women through education and entrepreneurship. She also has donated significant amount to various causes and has signed the Giving Pledge
Sara Blakely had not published a book. However, she has shared her entrepreneurial journey and insights through public speaking and also a book called The SPANX Story: What’s Underneath the Incredible Success of Sara Blakely’s Billion Dollar Empire written by Charlie and Stephanie Wetzel.
As of 2023, Sara Blakely’s net worth is estimated to be $1.1 billion.