If you haven’t heard of Spanx, chances are you’ve been living under a rock on Mars for the past 10 years. The company virtually created the women’s retail category of shapewear and now dominates the market. The line of body shapers, bras, panties and swimwear has become a basic necessity for everyone from celebrities on the red carpet to everyday women. Spanx even offers Manx, slimming undershirts and underwear for men!
Beyond providing women with smooth silhouettes and a boost of confidence for those who are self-conscious about their ripples, Spanx stands as a symbol of the American dream. The details behind Blakely’s rise to success—an overwhelming reason NAPW chose her as keynote speaker for May’s National Networking Conference—are amazingly inspirational!
Back in 1998, Blakely, irritated with the unsightly pantylines under the cream pants she was wearing, came up with the idea of wearing a pair of control top pantyhose that she had cut the feet out of. Voila! The pantylines were gone. With an investment of $5,000 of her own savings, she worked tirelessly to perfect the slimming undergarments and built Spanx, all while selling photocopiers and fax machines at her day job.
Sara Blakely, Founder & Owner of Spanx
Today Blakely, 41, stands as the sole owner of Spanx, which is valued at $1 billion, making her the youngest woman to join Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list without help from a husband or an inheritance. Blakely has never taken an outside investment or spent any money on advertising. The company, which has zero debt, is a shining example of hard-earned American success and gives Blakely the title of the ultimate self-made woman.
What really stands out about this remarkable story is that Blakely has had to face fears, tragedy and rejection, just like you and I. But with resilience, determination and a steadfast sense of direction, she didn’t allow any obstacles to stand in her way.