Sara Blakely Biography: Life, Career, Success & Wealth

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Gillian Zoe Segal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sara Blakely is a self-made billionaire and the founder of Spanx, a popular women’s undergarment and shapewear brand. She was born on February 27, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida. Blakely graduated from Florida State University with a degree in communication and worked briefly as a stand-up comedian before taking a sales job at a fax machine company.

In 1998, Blakely had a frustrating experience trying to find a flattering undergarment to wear under white pants. She decided to create her own solution, cutting the feet off a pair of pantyhose and wearing them as a slimming undergarment. Blakely knew she had a great idea and began developing her own prototype.

With only $5,000 in savings, Blakely began pitching her idea to hosiery mills and manufacturers. She faced many rejections, but finally received a positive response from a manufacturer who agreed to produce her product. Blakely launched Spanx in 2000 with just one product, the Footless Pantyhose. The product quickly became popular and was even featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, giving the brand a major boost in visibility.

Over the years, Spanx has expanded its product line to include various types of shapewear, hosiery, and activewear. Blakely’s net worth is currently estimated at $1.2 billion, making her one of the richest self-made women in America.

Despite her success, Blakely remains humble and focused on giving back. She is an active philanthropist, supporting causes such as education, entrepreneurship, and women’s empowerment. In 2013, she became the first female billionaire to join the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away the majority of her wealth to charitable causes.

In summary, Sara Blakely’s entrepreneurial spirit and determination have led to the creation of a hugely successful brand that has revolutionized the women’s undergarment industry. Her innovative approach to shapewear has earned her immense wealth, but she remains dedicated to making a positive impact in the world.

Here is a timeline of Sara Blakely:

  • 1971: Sara Blakely is born on February 27 in Clearwater, Florida.
  • 1993: Blakely graduates from Florida State University with a degree in communication.
  • 1998: Blakely cuts the feet off a pair of pantyhose to wear under white pants and realizes the need for a comfortable and slimming undergarment.
  • 2000: Blakely launches Spanx with just one product, the Footless Pantyhose, and begins selling it out of her apartment.
  • 2001: Oprah Winfrey features Spanx on her show, giving the brand a major boost in visibility.
  • 2003: Spanx introduces its first bodysuit, the Hide & Sleek.
  • 2010: Spanx expands its product line to include activewear.
  • 2012: Blakely becomes the first female billionaire to join the Giving Pledge, pledging to give away the majority of her wealth to charitable causes.
  • 2014: Blakely is named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
  • 2018: Blakely signs The Giving Pledge, committing to donate half of her wealth to charity during her lifetime.
  • 2021: Spanx is sold to a private equity firm for $1.2 billion.

This timeline highlights some of the key moments in Sara Blakely’s journey, from her initial idea for Spanx to the billion-dollar empire it has become. Along the way, Blakely has become a philanthropist and a role model for women entrepreneurs.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Sara Blakely:

  1. Blakely initially started out as a stand-up comedian and even auditioned for Saturday Night Live, but she was rejected and moved on to other pursuits.
  2. She wrote a note to herself every day for a year to stay motivated and focused on her goal of launching Spanx.
  3. In the early days of Spanx, Blakely used to go into stores to sell her product, and often ended up crawling into the store window displays to demonstrate how the products worked.
  4. Blakely was named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2012.
  5. She has donated over $100 million to various charitable causes through her foundation, The Sara Blakely Foundation.

Here are 5 quotes from Sara Blakely:

  1. “I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course. My attitude to failure is not attached to outcome, but in not trying. It is liberating.”
  2. “I didn’t have a fear of failure. I had a fear of not trying.”
  3. “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset.”
  4. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
  5. “I’ve always believed that you should do things you’re passionate about and that you love, and then work will never feel like work.”

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