Sara Blakely: From $5,000 to Youngest Self-Made Woman Billionaire

Sara Blakely (Courtesy: Entrepreneur)

Very few entrepreneurs are as interesting and chatty as Sara Blakely. For the past few days, I have been on youtube and the internet trying to find out about her, and all I come up with, are fun video clips of her, or a very relaxed toned interview. She makes entrepreneurship seem fun and seamless but I remember reading somewhere how difficult it was for her to start out her business.

How she sought out hosiery mills to produce Spanx, only to be told NO repeatedly. Spanx is a product to eliminate panty lines and make women look thiner and firmer in their clothes (MANX for men is also now on sale). Tenacity is a trait to be cultivated by entrepreneurs and Sara showed a lot of that. the rejection never got to her. She contacted a factory, and after the usual rejection, she received a call from the manager two weeks later. He had daughters, he told her, who wouldn’t let him pass up her invention. The company is now run by a team of 125, only 16 of them men. It sells 200 products in 11,500 department stores, boutiques and online shops in 40 countries.

At 27, Sara put her entire $5,000 savings into the business and spent the next two years planning the launch of her product while still working her day job. As its always emphasised challenges leeds to opportunities, Spanx was Sara’s answer to an irritating problem. She hated the way the seamed foot stuck out of an open-toe sandal or kitten heel. But she noticed that the control-top eliminated panty lines and made her tiny body look even firmer. She’d bought a new pair of cream slacks to wear to a party, the she cut the feet off her pantyhose and wore them underneath, but they kept on rolling up her legs all night, after which she decided she was going to make hers. Which has now made her at 41 according to Forbes, the youngest self made woman billionaire; with Spanx valued at $1 billion and Sara owns 100% of the private company.

Sara advises that: a great idea is at its most vulnerable the moment you conceive it. When you come across that profound good idea, do not seek validation for it, just go within yourself but also importantly, seek out the people that can help you get the idea made. Her most important message to someone who’s got an idea, is to stick with it. Prepare for the ups and downs, but all in all stick with it, and make sure to get energised by the idea and get it done.

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