“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.” ~Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely is an inspiring story for anyone who has ever felt like they were meant to do something bigger with their life. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, Blakely started her career selling fax machines door-to-door. But she knew that wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life.
In 1998, Blakely was getting ready for a party when she ran into a problem: she wanted to wear cream-colored pants, but, well, she had nothing to wear underneath that wouldn’t show lines or blemishes. She cut the feet off of a pair of “control top” pantyhose, and thus her idea was born. By the end of the year, she had achieved a patent for footless control-top pantyhose.
In 2000, Blakely convinced a manufacturer to make the first official Body-Shaping pantyhose and subsequently gave a before & after demonstration to Neiman Marcus. The company began carrying SPANX in several stores, and Blakely soon had orders coming in from major retailers like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s.
Next came Oprah, who added SPANX to her list of favorite things of 2000. By 2002, Blakely had been named the “Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southeast Region” by Ernst & Young. From there, Blakely’s successes kept on coming. SPANX expanded and grew, and in 2012, Forbes named her the youngest self-made female billionaire. The same year, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Blakely has certainly made some big friends along the way, competing in Richard Branson’s “The Rebel Billionaire” and coming in second for a prize of $750,000 to start her own foundation. Two years later, she hosted the “Give a Damn” party with Branson to celebrate the launch of the Sara Blakely Foundation. She also gave $1,000,000 to the Oprah Winfrey Foundation in South Africa in 2007, after naming Oprah as one of her biggest inspirations.
Sara Blakely started SPANX with just $5,000 and today is worth $1 billion. She is just 42 years old, and has a long road of fame and fortune ahead of her. Blakely is living proof that all it takes is a great idea and hard work to achieve your dreams.