Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sara Blakely: The Shape of Success

The flexibility of an American entrepreneur and philanthropist in revolutionizing the shapewear and intimate apparel industry through the founding of Spanx. Find out the path Sara took in becoming the youngest billionaire making her wealth through fashion.

For Blakely it may have started when she cut off the feet and rolled up her modified-leggings, but her journey would be about constantly rolling the dice, in a game of risk and reward. The founder of Spanx, the brand that revolutionised shapewear for women, went from being a travelling sales rep to the world’s youngest self-made billionaire by relentlessly pursuing a fashion idea she knew would succeed. With focus, determination and tons of character, she took her own simple concept (footless leggings) and went solo, making her fortune and weaving a story of inspiration and self-belief. She stared rejection in the face, having to take her product to the public directly, and crafted prototypes by hand when mills refused to make a run of her garment, even when she personally travelled the country to convince the owners. She fiercely walked her path independently, and alone, using her personality and overpowering sense of confidence to show customers the Spanx way.

She gave up her job, plundered her savings, and took her product to department stores, using a picture of herself to show the effectiveness of her product. There was no glitz, no glamour here – that is, until she sent one of her prototypes to Oprah, in a stroke of marketing genius. This was a product that women wanted. They did not need convincing, they just needed to know it existed, and Blakely put her profession, reputation and livelihood on the line to get the word out. She was the face of the brand, wore all hats, did all the groundwork herself. No delegation – her success rested on her own shoulders.

Blakely makes our list for two reasons. The first, as a ‘thank you’ from women the world over for providing the solution to enhancing their shape, perking up their assets and providing limitless confidence. The second, for not not taking ‘NO’ for an answer and showing us that that self-belief, determination and hard work almost inevitably pays off, given time. Being worth US$1 billion today, is not a bad trade-off for all those hard years of not giving up, don’t you think?

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