Sara Blakely’s creation and marketing of Spanx made her the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, a success she has paid forward by training aspiring female entrepreneurs. While Blakely was working selling fax machines for Danka, an office supply company, she invented a new undergarment by cutting the legs off a pair of support hose, slimming her waist but allowing her to wear open-toed shoes. She spent the next two years developing her design, discovering in the process that women’s hosiery was mainly made by men, with little regard for the range of women’s weight and height. She created a more tailored range of sizes and landed a deal with Neiman Marcus by changing in the restroom for a female buyer to demonstrate how well Spanx worked. In 2000, she sent a gift basket to Oprah Winfrey, whose enthusiasm for Spanx catapulted Blakely to her eventual success. Having struggled to learn on her own how to launch a successful business, Blakely created the Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006 to provide female entrepreneurs with mentorship and training. In 2012 she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sara Blakely." (Viewed on January 16, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/blakely-sara>.