Sara Blakely

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Sara Treleaven Blakely born February 27, 1971 is an American billionaire businesswoman, and founder of Spanx, an American intimate apparel company with pants and leggings, founded in Atlanta, Georgia. Sara Blakely is youngest self-made female billionaire who turned her life around with her idea of creating a new line of flattering undergarments.In 2012, Blakely was named in Time magazine’s “Time 100” annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  As of June 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and estimated net worth at$1 billion as of June 2019.

Blakely was born February 27, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida. She is the daughter of Ellen, an artist, and trial attorney, John Blakely. She has a brother, artist Ford Blakely.  She attended Clearwater High School and graduated from Florida State University with a communication degree, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.Although she initially planned to become an attorney, she reconsidered after placing very low on the Law School Admission Test; she instead accepted a job at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she worked for three months.  She also occasionally worked as a stand-up comedian during this period.

After her short stint at Disney, Blakely accepted a job with office supply company Danka, where she sold fax machines door-to-door. She was quite successful in sales and was promoted to national sales trainer at the age of 25.  Forced to wear pantyhose in the hot Floridian climate for her sales role, Blakely disliked the appearance of the seamed foot while wearing open-toed shoes but liked the way that the control-top model eliminated panty lines and made her body appear firmer.  For her attendance at a private party, she experimented by cutting off the feet of her pantyhose while wearing them under a new pair of slacks and found that the pantyhose continuously rolled up her legs, but she also achieved the desired result.

At age 27, Blakely relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, and while still working at Danka, spent the next two years and $5,000 savings researching and developing her hosiery idea. But her fortitude paved the path of her success, and the first product prototype was soon completed. Sara set new standards in the hosiery market with her novelty and enterprising nature. She chose a bold ‘red’ for packaging her product and used varied animated images of women. She was turned away by every representative; these companies were used to dealing with established companies and did not see the value of her idea. Also, she met with Sam Kaplan who was the owner of Highland Mills, who initially did not show any interest in Blakely’s idea.

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Two weeks after arriving home from her North Carolina trip, luckily for Blakely, she received a call from Sam Kaplan, who offered to support Blakely’s concept, as he had received strong encouragement from his daughters -he asked his two daughters whether they would be interested in such a product and if they would be willing to buy it. Both of them said yes instantly which led to Kaplan’s approval.Blakely later credited her father with helping her develop the courage to be an entrepreneur. As she told Newsweek, “My father encouraged my brother and me to fail. I specifically remember coming home and saying, ‘Dad, Dad, I tried out for this or that and I was horrible,’ and he would high-five me and say, ‘Way to go.’”

Blakely then returned to a patent attorney to finalize her application prior to her submission to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and he agreed to assist Blakely for a sum of US$750. Following the submission of the online application, Blakely then worked on the packaging of her product.

Blakely then used her credit card to purchase the “Spanx” trademark on the USPTO website for US$150.

Blakely managed to arrange a meeting with a representative of the Neiman Marcus Group, at which she changed into the product in the ladies’ restroom in the presence of the Neiman Marcus buyer to prove the benefits of her innovation.  Blakely’s product was sold in seven Neiman Marcus stores as a result of the meeting; Bloomingdales, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman soon followed.  At around this time, Blakely sent a basket of products to Oprah Winfrey’s television program, with a gift card that explained what she was attempting to develop. Blakely initially handled all aspects of the business, including marketing, logistics and product positioning, preferring the location of Spanx alongside shoes in retail outlets, rather than in hosiery sections; however, her boyfriend at the time, a healthcare consultant, later resigned from his job and joined Blakely in the running of the nascent business. Blakely was contacting friends and acquaintances, including those from her past, and asking them to seek out her products at select department stores in exchange for a check that she would send to them by mail as a token of appreciation.Blakely further explained in 2011 that the experience of developing her idea also revealed to her that the hosiery manufacturing industry was overseen solely by men who were not using the products they were producing.

In November 2000, Winfrey named Spanx a “Favorite Thing”, leading to a significant rise in popularity and sales, as well as Blakely’s resignation from Danka.  Spanx achieved US$4 million in sales in its first year and US$10 million in sales in its second year.  In 2001, Blakely signed a contract with QVC, the home shopping channel and sold 8,000 pairs in the first six minutes of operation.

Spanx has its headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Having established its identity in approximately 50 countries, Spanx is opening retail shops in the United States. The brand has created and sustains its motto of making women realise their potential and true worth.

In 2006, Blakely launched the Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training—Blakely had considered the establishment of a non-profit foundation prior to the founding of Spanx. Richard Branson acted as a mentor to Blakely and, at the conclusion of The Rebel Billionaire, surprised Blakely with a US$750,000 check to start the Foundation. Since its launch, The Sara Blakely Foundation has funded scholarships for young women at the Community and Individual Development Association City Campus in South Africa and Blakely appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006, donating US$1 million to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. In 2013 Blakely became the first female billionaire to join the “Giving Pledge”, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s pledge, whereby the world’s richest people donate at least half of their wealth to charity.In March 2012, Blakely made the cover of Forbes magazine as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She debuted her special shapewear line for Target, called Assets, that same year.

In October 2013, Blakely explained that her ambition is to design the world’s most comfortable high-heel shoe prior to retirement.  As of 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Blakely has continued to grow her business, branching into the jeans market in 2015.

In 2015, Blakely and her husband Jesse Itzler were part of a group led by Tony Ressler along with Grant Hill, Steven Price, and Rick Schnall, that successfully purchased the Atlanta Hawks for $850 million.

Sara Blakely’s invention was an answer to the prayers of millions of women worldwide. Her invention was authentic and with her only 5000 dollars she appealed to the masses because of her unique and outstanding idea. She achieved her dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. She married Jesse Itzler, an American Rapper in 2008.