Meet MAKER Sara Blakely, the Youngest Female Self-made Billionaire

Monday
Sep 1 2014

Meet MAKER Sara Blakely, the Youngest Female Self-made Billionaire

“When you’re changing the game, you’re going to hear the word no.”  
- Sara Blakely

This MAKERS Monday launches the story of an entrepreneur who saw a gap in the fashion market. After attending Florida State University, Sara Blakely planned on becoming an attorney until she failed the LSAT--twice. She took a brief job at Disney World, then sold fax machines door-to-door. While at the office supply company, Blakely had the idea for footless pantyhose that would smooth her figure and go seamlessly under white pants. She spent the next two years developing the invention, writing her own patent and cold calling hosiery manufacturers. Then one day she got a call from a manufacturer whose daughters liked the idea.

She named the product Spanx. When she showed it to a representative of Neiman Marcus—by trying on and demonstrating the power of Spanx in the bathroom--the representative agreed to stock her invention in seven stores. In November 2000, Oprah Winfrey named Spanx one of her favorite things--only then, when sales surged, did Sara quit her job at the fax machine company. Blakely is the youngest self-made female billionaire, and in 2006 she launched The Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training. Forbes lists Blakely as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world.

In her interviews, Blakely talks about her early efforts in entrepreneurship, and how her failed LSATS led to a job at Disney World. She speaks about the importance of working with integrity and gives advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Coinciding with fashion week, MAKERS.com will highlight other women who have paved their own way in fashion, like blogger and publisher Tavi Gevinson, and iconic designer Diane Von Furstenberg. We will recount their individual journeys and moments of inspiration with social and editorial content across MAKERS channels.

Tags: MAKERS, Sara Blakely, Retail

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