Sara Blakely has a lot in common with us TSM ladies. She’s awesome, she’s a proud sorority woman, and she wears Spanx. I know, I know, Spanx aren’t exactly sratty. But find me a woman, no matter how skinny or in shape she is, that doesn’t look better in tight clothes whilst wearing Spanx, and I will buy you however many pairs of shoes at Neimans you want! Because it can’t be done I tell you! It can’t! Although we don’t like to admit it, at least 90% of the girls on TSM have worn Spanx at one point or another, and they made us look even more amazing than we did in the first place. We owe our gratitude to Blakely, the creator of the magical undergarment. Starting with only $5,000, she created an entire company from the ground up and is now wildly successful. Not only is she a member of the very elite ‘American Billionairesses’ club, she was also named the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world by Forbes (self-made meaning without help from a husband or inheritance). It is literally impossible for me to express how badly I want to be her. Someone wanting to be a self-made billionaire, crazy, right?
Growing up in Clearwater, Florida, Sara was set up for success by her personal injury lawyer daddy. He always pushed her to pursue her dreams and even gave her his old motivational tapes that taught her how to be a ‘No Limits Person.’ Sara fed her entrepreneurial drive early on by starting little companies in high school, most of which she worked on over the summer. During the school year, Sara doubled as the popular, blonde cheerleader and debate team champion. Her peppy attitude and way with words not only helped her in her business ventures later on, but also made her the perfect PNM at Florida State University. I’m sure every house was fighting tooth and nail over her, but she ultimately ended up in Delta Delta Delta. While she wasn’t busy having the time of her life with her sisters and her favorite fratstars, Sara was on the FSU debate team and attended enough classes to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.
After graduation Blakely took the LSAT a few times, but after she realizing that law school wasn’t for her, she struggled to find the direction she wanted to take her life. It wasn’t until she bought a kickass pair of tight white pants that inspiration hit her. Even though Sara was super skinny, she could not find a pair of panties she could wear with her expensive pants that didn’t have major visible panty lines. Remember: this was the 90’s, it was a different time for underwear. She loved how pantyhose made her already hot bod look even firmer and didn’t show, but the seams on the feet looked stupid in sandals and dug into her feet whenever she wore heels. In an effort to look amazing debuting her pants at a party, she cut the feet off a pair of panty hose and wore them underneath. Even though her ass looked amazing, the hose keep rolling up her legs the entire time. Her search for the perfect undergarment was getting almost as frustrating as my search for a workout that would make me lose weight everywhere… except for my boobs.
Sara became determined to make these new panties not only for her, but also for all of womankind. After approaching several fabric manufacturers about possibly creating footless pantyhose, she was received only rejection. It wasn’t until after one of the manufacturing company’s managers went home and shared the idea with his daughters (who of course convinced him to create Blakely’s idea) that the product was given the green light for production. Using everything that she had from her savings, she ran the company out of her own apartment. Blakely literally did everything; she designed the logo, came up with the name, did all of the shipping and handling, pitched the idea to distributors, and even filed documentation for a patent herself by using a “For Dummies” book. After landing Neiman Marcus as a distributor, her ‘Spanx’ took off. Spanx made $4 million in its first year and $10 million in its second. She has never spent a nickel on advertising, but managed to get Spanx sold at Saks and Bloomingdales. Her big break hit when Spanx were featured on ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things.’ The rest is history.
Blakely has since expanded her company enormously, and Spanx now features a variety of shapewear, swimwear, activewear, and even Spanx for Men! To this day, Spanx is 100% privately owned by Blakely and has been valued at over $1 billion. She now has a 2-year-old son with her husband, former musician and fellow entrepreneur Jesse Izler. Besides being the ultimate modern power couple, what Izler loves most about Sara’s success is how women approach his wife everyday and flash her, showing off their Spanx! Blakely didn’t have any major experience in fashion or business, but through her determination she filled the void in undergarments and started a shapewear revolution. She has now used her success to start the Sara Blakely Foundation, which is committed to helping women around the world. Blakely also loves to feature up and coming female entrepreneurs in her catalogue and on her website to help out young women starting off just as she did. Sara Blakely is the perfect inspiration for young sorority women looking to make it big in the business world, and I think it’s safe to say that she has our asses covered.
Follow me on Twitter @CorningstoneTFM