We’re budding entrepreneurs and we love to dream big so nothing gets us more excited than a real ‘started from nothing’ type of story. Sometimes they even give us goosebumps. We’ve really been making progress with our collection in the past few weeks so startup stories and struggles have really been at the forefront of our minds. This week we wanted to write about Sara Blakely, the woman who created the wonder product and every woman’s best friend – Spanx.
Sara started Spanx in 2000 and is now the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She had dreamed of becoming a lawyer but couldn’t beat the LSATs so ended up taking a job at Disney World in Florida. Her next job was at an office supply company, selling fax machines door to door. The idea of Spanx came to her when she realised she didn’t like the way her bum looked in white trousers. At first she tried cutting off the feet from a pair of control top tights to wear underneath her trousers. She got the smoothing effect but had the pesky problem of the legs of the tights rolling up throughout the evening. She spent the next few years and her $5,000 of savings researching the hosiery industry and experimenting with different materials to create the perfect product. She wrote her patent herself, using just a textbook from Barnes & Noble. She knew nothing about retail but says that her ignorance actually worked in her favour, ‘What you don't know can become your greatest asset if you'll let it and if you have the confidence to say, I'm going to do it anyway even though I haven't been taught or somebody hasn't shown me the way’. Once production was in place, Sara started pitching her idea to the big department stores in the US. She was handling all aspects of the business while still working her day job at the office supply company. In her first year of selling, Oprah announced Spanx as her favourite product of the year. Sales went through the roof and Sara was finally able to quit her job. She sold $4 million worth of Spanx in the first year and $10 million in the second. Sara still owns 100% of the company.
Sara really is a wonder woman and an incredible role model for women in business. And when you hear her speak, she has the widest smile! Here’s a recent interview with her:
Keep working hard,
Shaleena & Roshni
What we’re listening to: Sam Smith ‘Money On My Mind’