Founder of SPANX & Youngest Self-Made Female Billionaire
Sara Blakely wanted footless body-shaping pantyhose to wear with her cream-colored pants and open-toed shoes, but she couldn’t find them anywhere. As a frustrated consumer turned entrepreneur, Blakely took $5,000 in savings and began her adventure in the $2 billion male-dominated hosiery industry.
Two years later, with her first pair of patented footless pantyhose in hand, Blakely cold-called and landed the top retail stores across the country. Selling over 50,000 pair in its first three months from the back of her apartment, Blakely’s SPANX revitalized an industry in a 10-year slump. Her SPANX footless pantyhose even captured the attention of Oprah and landed on The Oprah Winfrey Show’s Favorite Things list.
Concerned with creating comfortable, slimming garments that minimize figure flaws, Blakely reinvented shape wear with innovative designs and smart features which won the hearts of fashion-loving women, from Oprah Winfrey to Gwyneth Paltrow. SPANX has developed and launched more than 60 styles – with names like Bra-llelujah, Two Timin’ Tights, Power Panties, and Slim-Cognito– all designed to be innovative, comfortable, slimming, and stylish.
Blakely appeared on Fox, setting daring world-records, meeting Nelson Mandela, and leading successful business challenges as a cast member on The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best. As the first runner-up, she received a $750,000 check from Richard Branson to pursue her dream to start a foundation to empower women, The Sara Blakely Foundation.
Remaining self-funded and profitable ever since Blakely started the company, SPANX continues to show increasing profits, celebrating more than $100 million in retail sales in 2006. SPANX are sold in America’s finest upscale stores and boutiques in the US, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and Parisian, as well as upscale boutiques and retailers in Canada and the UK.
As the leader of the shape wear revolution, Blakely wanted to find a way to share her slimming secrets with even more women. With the launch of ASSETS by Sara Blakely, a new brand exclusive to Target, the shape wear revolution will reach new heights, giving better underwear options to women everywhere – and giving back. A portion of each ASSETS purchase will go to The Sara Blakely Foundation dedicated to supporting and empowering women around the world. In 2007, Sara donated $1 million to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.
Blakely’s story and SPANX products have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, Forbes, E!, and Glamour – to Vogue, People, InStyle, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, WWD and USA Today. Sara has been named Ernst & Young’s Southeast Regional Entrepreneur of the Year and Georgia’s Woman of the Year.
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