Female Entrepreneur Finds a Niche & Soars With Persistence

You’ve probably heard of Spanx, and perhaps you even own a pair.

This month, 41-year-old Spanx creator Sara Blakely graces the cover of Forbes, as she was just added to this year’s World’s Billionaires list. She’s the youngest woman to join this list without help from an inheritance or husband.

This accomplishment follows decades of Blakely’s incredible persistence, the ability to set herself and her product apart from others, and staying true to who she is throughout it all.

Blakely always had a bit of entrepreneurial zeal since her teens, but thought she was on track to be a lawyer. She instead ended up working at Disney and then in sales at an office supply company in her early twenties. And it was from uncomfortably trying to do these jobs in panty hose in the hot Florida weather, that Spanx was born.

For two years, she worked her nine-to-five job, but spent every night at the library researching hosiery patents. She cold-called hosiery mills, but after no upon no, she persevered by going door-to-door until she finally got the yes she was wanted.

Blakely used a Barnes and Noble book to write her own patent. She came up with her brand name herself, wanting to make it funny and memorable, and created a package design with a friend that would stand out. After that, persistence continued to be the was the name of her game. Blakely flew to meet with buyers, consistently sent her product to Oprah’s stylist, and did all she could to promote her brand. From there, things took off.

Today, Blakely has no debt, owns 100% of the private company, has never taken outside investment and hasn’t spent a thing advertising. According to Forbes, she is part of a tiny, elite club of American women worth ten figures on their own, including Oprah Winfrey and Meg Whitman.

And all she began with is $5000, and a problem she wanted to fix.

What are you waiting for?

Here are Blakely’s tips for entrepreneurs:

  • Differentiate yourself
  • Visualize where you are headed
  • Trust your gut along the way
  • Be authentic and who you are throughout the process
  • Treat people kindly and be fair
  • Embrace what you don’t know: it can become your greatest asset, ensures you will do things differently
  • Don’t solicit feedback on your product, idea, or business for validation purposes; be careful because out of love and concern those closest to you will express concerns that will stop multi-million dollar deals right in their tracks

Watch the video of Blakely sharing these tips, read her nine secrets to Spanx success, or read the full Forbes cover story.

We want to share your success story too! Tell us how you got to where you are, or someone you admire.

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.