See This Lady? Sara Blakely

sara blakely

Her company has no debt, no outside shareholders and has never spent a dollar on ads. Maybe that's why she's a billionaire.

Over and over again, Sara Blakely was told that her idea for women's slimming undergarments was a horrible idea.  

Of course, these voices of dissent all came from men.

Deterred? That's not exactly in her nature. In fact, she's fueled by rejection.

Her dream of becoming a lawyer was squashed when she couldn't pass the LSAT (required to get into law school).

She had to overcome severe and crippling phobias; of heights, flying and public speaking (and if you haven't noticed, entrepreneuers have to travel and take a lot of meetings).

She even auditioned to play Goofy at Disney World -- but was rejected for failing to meet the height requirement (instead, they made her play a chipmunk).

So there she was, selling fax machines door-to-door for seven years in the hot Florida heat. Rejected daily. People ripping up her business card in front of her.

And inspiration struck for creating a new kind of body-shaping product for women. And that's where the hard work really began. 

She kept her day job and spent her nights and weekends working on a prototype. She invested her life savings of $5,000 trying to get there, all the while getting doors slammed in her face by manufacturers who told her she was crazy.

She couldn't afford a patent attorney, so she read a book and learned how to write her own. She designed her own packaging and even took a year and a half of deliberation to come up with the name Spanx.

Finally, a guy in North Carolina took pity on her and agreed to help with getting the garments made.

Two years later, she made her first sale to a buyer, Neiman Marcus. That's when she finally quit her job. And her big break came when she sent some of her products to Oprah Winfrey's stylist. In 2000, The Queen of Daytime TV named Spanx her Product of the Year.

In 2012, Sara Blakely made the cover of Forbes as the youngest self-made female billionaire in history. She was 41.



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John Lavallo57 Posts

John is Columbia Business School MBA with expertise in marketing, business leadership, and law. John is a successful entrepreneur who took his first company public. He currently resides in New York City.