This Sara Blakely Mompreneur Spotlight Feature Has Been Brought To You By:
Mompreneur billionaire and Spanx founder, Sara Blakely shares her path to success
It’s easy to see an obstacle as a roadblock on the way to reaching a goal, but sometimes that roadblock is actually just a detour leading to a destined path.
That was the case for mompreneur billionaire Sara Blakely, mom of three and founder of Spanx brand undergarments.
Blakely’s path to creating the world’s best fashion fix wasn’t a direct one. After graduating from college with a communication degree, Sara Blakely pursued a law degree but she struggled with the LSAT, the preadmission test for law school. That struggle caused her to pursue something wildly different; she began working at Disney World.
However, after three months there she faced yet another struggle. She wanted to play Goofy, but playing the character required an actor that is 5’8.” At 5’6” that was one obstacle Blakeley couldn’t overcome. Frustrated, she quit and explored several other paths, including selling fax machines door to door.
Though they paved the way, none of those failed starts actually gave Sara Blakely the inspiration to start her wildly successful business. Instead it was a minor inconvenience that led her to develop her brilliant solution. Unable to find a control-top panty hose that didn’t have a visible toe seam, Blakely began to create her own by cutting off the feet on an existing pair.
“I cut the feet off my pantyhose and wore them underneath but they rolled up my legs all night. I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got to figure out how to make this.’” Despite never having worked in retail or fashion, Sarah Blakey was determined to create an undergarment that didn’t exist. It was the birth of a fashion solution for women everywhere.
Related Article: Actress and mompreneur Jessica Alba gets honest about business
Charging forward and launching her product was part of the reason she found success. “I had no idea what I was doing, and in most cases it worked in my favor,” she said. She explained that she was sometimes able to get her product into coveted places, like Neiman Marcus, simply by approaching them directly, while others were still trying the conventional tradeshow route. Blakely said that if you don’t know what you are doing it forces you to think creatively, which ultimately leads to a better company and outstanding products.
It also helped that she had some good advice instilled in her along the way. Her father urged Blakely and her brother to fail and to talk about those failures. It sounds absurd but the lesson was to encourage them to do something even if they might not be good at it. Sara Blakely said it reframed how she thought about failure.
With that Sara Blakely shared some wisdom for other aspiring mompreneurs.
Don’t share too soon
Passion will help drive your business. However, if you share your ideas too soon in the process friends and family—often out of love—may dissuade you with their concerns.
Keep your steady income
Blakely used $5,000 of her savings to launch Spanx, doing much of the work on her own. Not willing to give up her stable income, Sara Blakely worked during her lunch breaks, after work and on weekends on her product, until it was ready to launch.
Don’t fear failure
Blakely recognizes that if she had passed her LSAT she would’ve traveled a much different path. But failure also dogged her during the early days of her product launch. Blakely remembers hearing ‘no’ about a thousand times from manufacturers. She believed in herself, the product and she refused to give up.
Don’t forget to give back
The Spanx website and catalog features women and their businesses. It gives these women exposure to more than 1 million other women and gives Sara Blakely a way to pay forward her own good fortune.