Sara Blakely says the way she built her billion-dollar company, Spanx, was to “start small, think big, and scale fast”.
“I only spent what I absolutely needed to. The Spanx headquarters was my 1,100-square-foot apartment. I used my roommate’s bedroom.”
Rewinding a few years earlier, long before Spanx had even been named yet, let alone become a billion-dollar company.
Sara was working selling fax machines door-to-door. Facing rejection and failure almost everyday.
Reflecting back on these years, Sara says: “It was great life training”.
It prepared her for rejection, taught her to face her fears, and developed persistence to stay the course and push on regardless.
One day she was preparing to attend a party and had an off the cuff idea of cutting the feet out of her pantyhose.
“I threw them on under my white pants, and went to a party. I looked fabulous, I felt great, I had no panty lines, I looked thinner and smoother.”
She remembers being struck by the idea that “this should exist for all women” and right there, in her mind, Spanx was founded.
It wouldn’t become to be called Spanx for more than a year and a half later. But she knew her mind that she was onto something and was ready to work really hard to get it.
Despite not having taken a single business class in her life, never having worked in fashion nor retail. She was determined to bring her newly invented “shapewear” to the women who needed it.
With just $5000, her life’s savings, she invested everything into her business and learned everything she needed to succeed.
Driven by her desire to make Spanx a global phenomenon she persevered in her business and had a vision of being on Oprah.
When she first had the idea of being hosted on Oprah I’m sure it may have just been a passing wish. Yet everyday as she designed her product, developed her marketing and grew her business she focused on this in her mind.
One day the phone rang, it was Oprah wanting her to come on the show.
After a successful show on Oprah and Oprah coming out and saying that “Spanx was her favorite product of the year” sales picked up, And fast.
Soon becoming a billion-dollar company and making Sara Blakely a self-made billionaire.