Sara Blakely’ Ecommerce Startup Story: Spanx


Sara Blakely always jokes that her butt was her inspiration when creating Spanx. The idea was born out of a desire to have something to wear underneath her clothing, that wouldn’t create lines, specifically her white pants. She didn’t have a background in business or fashion and was selling fax machines door to door at the time. She took all her savings, approximately $5000, and went all in to start Spanx. She kept calling hosiery mills and was rejected by several companies. She noticed that men were creating women’s undergarments and had never actually worn the products to know why they weren’t working. However, she knew she had a great idea. At the time she couldn’t afford a lawyer to write up a patent for her so she bought a book and learned how to write it herself. Shortly afterward, she found someone who would work with her to create her idea as he had daughters who thought the idea was a great one. Those daughters ended up convincing their dad to help her.

Today Sara Blakely combines her physical retail presence with an online store. Her personal net worth is $1.03 billion as she’s the sole owner of Spanx, making her the youngest self-made female billionaire in the United States.

The main takeaway from Sara Blakely’s story is that you need to be resourceful in order to succeed. When she first started her business, she sought out manufacturers to create her product and kept searching until she found one that believed in her. When she didn’t have the financial resources to hire a lawyer, she took it upon herself to learn how to create her own patent. She didn’t let obstacles get in the way of her success. She was always able to find the workaround in order to achieve her goals.


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