Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure you do things differently from anyone else.
Born in Florida, Sara Blakely is the founder and inventor of Spanx, the famous figure controlling ladies’ underwear range. She graduated with a communications degree. Initially, she planned to follow a career as an attorney, but abandoned this following very low test grades.
We don’t have the luxury of time. We spend more because of how we live, but it’s important to be with our family and friends.
After this, she worked at Disney for three months, while occasionally doing stand-up comedy. Following this, she got an office job at a company called Danka, in which she soon began to show a talent in sales. She was promoted to the position of national sales trainer at the age of 25.
The idea for Spanx came about by accident, when Sara, as part of her sales role, she had to wear pantyhose, in the hot weather of Florida. She didn’t like the way the seamed foot of the tights showed through her open toed sandals, but she liked the way the top part made her figure appear firmer and erased underwear lines. So she chopped off the feet of the tights, and was pleased with the results even though the fabric rolled up her legs.
This was a huge let down for Sara, but two weeks later, she was called by a mill operator who kindly offered to invest and help her get the business off the ground. He had been persuaded by his three daughters!
It took a full year for the prototype to be perfected. This process involved the product being tested by Sara, her mother and her friends. This method of testing was highly unusual in the industry, as most products were tested using machines.
Once this was completed, she arranged to pitch to a representative of the Neiman Marcus group. She demonstrated the product herself in order display its benefits to the best effect. As a direct result of this meeting, the product began to be sold in high end department stores across the country. Sara also sent a basket of the products to Oprah Winfrey’s show, and included a gift card to explain her plan of development.
In 2000, Oprah Winfrey proudly named Spanx as a favourite product. This endorsement led to a dramatic rise in sales and demand. Because of this, Sara was able to resign from Danka. The following year, she signed a contract with QVC, the TV home shopping channel, selling 8000 items in the first 6 minutes!
From 2014, Sara Blakely was the 93rd most powerful woman according to Forbes.