This is all do to Sara Blakley, the company founder. The 41-year-old, is the youngest self-made woman to make Forbes Billionaire list.
Sara is a great role model for young women everywhere. Despite her fears of heights, flying and public speaking she has amassed a fortune travelling cross-country for in-store demonstations and taking customer service calls from her bathroom at home.
A one-time Disneyworld employee, Ms Blakely found her real calling when hawking fax machines door to door for Danks, an office stationary supply company in Florida.
Uncomfortable in the sticky humidity she was desperate to find a pair of pantyhose that didn’t have seamed toes and that didn’t roll up the leg when she cut them.
She explained to Forbes: ‘I’d never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn’t exist.’
After setting aside her life-savings of $5000, the aspiring hosiery maven moved to Atlanta and threw herself into research, knocking on factory doors to get her new product manufactured.
To save the $3,000 legal fees needed to patent the name she used a Barnes & Noble textbook and learned how to do it herself.
Of the brand, Ms Blakely said: ‘The word “Spanx” was funny. It made people laugh. No one ever forgot it.’
Without a penny to spend on packaging or advertising, the wily entrepreneur spent evenings on a friend’s computer designing her logo and reading up on marketing tips.
The character and charm that she relied on to launch her business was noted by current CEO of Neiman Marcus, Karen Katz, who saw her first ever pitch.
‘Sara’s effort was to solve an age-old problem for women in a modern way,’ she said, adding: ‘We were smitten from the beginning.’
When Oprah announced on her show that Spanx was her favourite product of the year in 2000, despite not even have a website, the business exploded.
In its first year, the company, that is still owned entirely by Ms Blakely, fetched $4million in sales with an impressive $10million the next.
And all the while, she has never spent a cent on advertising or relied on support from investors.
These days nine catalogues are mailed to six million shoppers every year and the founder is plotting for expansion with her long-standing CEO Laurie Ann Goldman.
Plans including stand alone stores, a cheaper diffusion line and a swimwear line.
Sara says, ‘I feel like money makes you more of who you already are. If you’re an asshole, you become a bigger asshole. If you’re nice, you become nicer. Money is fun to make, fun to spend and fun to give away.’
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