“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”
Sara Blakely is the woman who gracefully learnt from defeat and wove her path towards success, making her one of the most powerful entrepreneurs in the fashion industry today.
Sara Blakely is the founder of the American apparel brand, Spanx. Spanx is an intimate clothing company producing leggings and pants, founded in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sara’s story began when she wanted to become a lawyer. She appeared for the LSAT, but did not get a satisfactory score. She then took up a job at Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida- while simultaneously also performing gigs as a stand-up comedian. She also took up the job of a salesperson. She would go from door to door selling fax machines, where she would get rejected daily. This taught her many life lessons.
Blakely said, “One of my greatest weaknesses also happens to be one of my greatest strengths: being underestimated.”
While working as a salesperson, a part of her uniform was wearing a pantyhose, which she disliked. Due to Florida’s hot climate, it was very uncomfortable to wear seamed foot clothing with open-toed shoes. Sara cut off the feet from her pantyhose and wore the cropped hose underneath her pants to smooth out the lines and creases. This was Blakely’s Eureka Moment. She had created a revolutionary product which would benefit millions of women, providing style as well as comfort.
However, her journey was not that easy. She continued to work as a salesperson while also looking for manufacturers for her newly designed product. She went to North Carolina, where she pitched her idea to many manufacturers and producers- only to be rejected by all of them. They did not see any potential in her innovation. Two weeks later, she received a call from one of the mill owners who were willing to support her concept.
Soon, her idea was gaining momentum. In the final stages, she decided to come up with a name for her product. She initially wanted to name her product “Spanks” but decided to tweak it to “Spanx” as it would be easier to trademark and harder for others to replicate and copy. Soon the product was in the market and selling! People appreciated her idea. She handled everything in her business- right from logistics to production and marketing.
She worked hard and finally achieved the success that life owed her. She also revolutionised the packaging of hosiery products. In the first year of sales itself, Spanx earned a total sales of $4 million!
Aside from a first-class entrepreneur, Sara Blakely is also a philanthropist. In 2006, she launched the Sara Blakely Foundation. In 2020, she has donated $5 million for coronavirus or COVID 19 relief.
Currently, Spanx is valued at about 1 billion dollars. Sara Blakely continues to inspire and help many women, all over the world with her success story. She sets a perfect example and her story tells us to never give up, even when failure strikes.
“I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course.” – Sara Blakely