Sara Blakely: Inspirational Life of World's Youngest self-made Female Billionaire

Sara Blakely: Inspirational Life of World's Youngest self-made Female BillionaireSara Blakely was born on February 21, 1971. She is an American businesswoman and founder of Spanx, a multi-million dollar undergarment company. She is the world's youngest self-made female billionaire. In 2012, she was named in Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world assembled by Time. In 2008, Blakely married former American rapper Jesse Itzler. The couple were married at in a Jewish ceremony at the Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande, Florida. The wedding was attended by actor Matt Damon and featured a surprise performance by singer Olivia Newton-John. In 2009, they had a son, Lazer Blake Itzler.

Blakely was born to a Jewish family on February 21, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida, the daughter of a personal injury lawyer and an artist. She attended Clearwater High School and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in communications. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. Her plan to become an attorney was altered after twice doing poorly on the LSAT and she instead took a job at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida where she worked for three months. She also worked as a stand-up comedian from time to time.


After her short stint at Disney, Blakely accepted a job with Danka, an office supply company, where she sold fax machines door-to-door. She was quite successful in sales and was promoted to national sales trainer at the age of 25. Having been forced to wear pantyhose in the hot Florida climate, Blakeley disliked the appearance of the seamed foot while wearing open-toed shoes but liked the fact that the control-top eliminated panty lines and made the body appear firmer. She experimented by cutting off the feet of her pantyhose while wearing them under a new pair of slacks; unfortunately the experiment was not successful as the pantyhose continuously rolled up her legs (the original pants are now enshrined at Spanx headquarters).

Sara Blakely: Inspirational Life of World's Youngest self-made Female BillionaireAt age 27, she moved to Atlanta, and while still working at Danka, spent the next two years and her entire $5,000 in savings researching hosiery patents and visiting craft stores to find the right material for her product. Eventually coming upon a solution, she wrote her own patent from a Barnes & Noble textbook and incorporated her company under the name Spanx. Turned away by numerous mills who did not see the value of her idea, she eventually found a hosiery factory in Asheboro, North Carolina, which was willing to make her product. She successfully pitched her idea to Neiman-Marcus by personally taking the buyer to the ladies restroom to show her the benefits of Spanx in person. Bloomingdales, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman soon followed. She handled all aspects of the business from marketing, logistics, and product positioning (preferring that Spanx be sold alongside shoes rather than in hosiery). In November 2000, Oprah Winfrey named Spanx her favorite product of the year and sales took off; soon after Blakely resigned from Danka. Spanx had $4 million in sales in its first year and $10 million in sales in its second year. In 2001, she signed a contract with QVC, the home shopping channel, where she sold 8,000 pairs in the first six minutes.

Blakely was a contestant on The Rebel Billionaire, and starred as one of the judges on ABC's reality television series, American Inventor. She also guest-starred on Free Radio in January 2008.

In 2006, Blakely launched the Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training, and has funded scholarships for young women at community and Individual Development Association City Campus in South Africa. Blakely appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006 and donated $1 million to Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy. In 2013 Blakely joined the Giving Pledge, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s pledge for the world’s richest people to give at least half their wealth to charity. She is the first female billionaire to join.

Forbes writes about her " The world's youngest self-made female billionaire is taking her shapewear giant Spanx to the streets. Blakely has come a long way since age 29, when she invested her entire life savings, $5,000, trying to come up with something flattering to wear under her white slacks. Since then Blakely has taken Spanx from a one-product wonder sold out of her Atlanta apartment to a powerhouse with over $250 million in annual revenues and net profit margins estimated at 20%. She owns 100% of the private company, has never advertised and never taken outside investment".

Dated 29 May 2013