Sara Blakely is an American entrepreneur and the Founder of Spanx, a shapewear brand launched in 2000 and sold in more than 50 countries. Blakely came up with the idea for footless pantyhose in her twenties when getting ready for a party and realizing she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white pants. Over the years, Spanx has expanded to include bras, leggings, swimwear, maternity wear, and even some menswear. And Blakely is still as of today the sole owner and CEO of the company.
Spanx’s calling is to help women feel great about themselves and their potential. It reflects Blakely’s mission to empower and elevate women. In 2020, she donated $5 million to support female-owned small businesses in the U.S. impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Blakely is an inspirational example of how a simple idea can turn into something great. And she continues to set time aside to share the lessons learned with others. Her Instagram feed is filled with positive and motivational quotes. She states that "the difference between people who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is simple… action. It’s not about having a ton of brains, or ton of money or a ton of experience. It’s about ACTION."
When she began, she had no money, no experience, and an unrelated job. But a crazy idea turned $5,000 earned from her sales job into a billion-dollar business. Her lack of knowledge and experience ended up being a strength. Free from common expectations, she played by her own rules. In 2012, she was named the youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes and is now ranked No. 32 on their listing of 2020 American self-made women.
Blakely also invests in herself and concedes the importance of personal time. Her favorite pastime is “recreational thinking,” especially in her car. As she lives only five minutes away from her office, she takes several days a week to “fake commute” in which she drives around aimlessly.
Blakely is not only a businesswoman but also a mom of 4. There are no beauty filters on her Instagram and you are more likely to find her in a comfy outfit than in a tailored suit. She divides her life into buckets and when she is in one, she cannot be present in the other. This simplicity is what makes her so appealing, accessible, and relatable.