Sara Blakely Net Worth
Sara Blakely net worth: Sara Blakely is an American entrepreneur and the founder of shapewear company Spanx who has a net worth of $1.2 billion dollars.
Early Life: Sara Blakely was born on February 27, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida. Her parents Ellen and John are, respectively, an artist and attorney. She has a brother, Ford, who is an artist. She went to Clearwater High School. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in communications. She was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority while at Florida State. Blakely originally planned to follow in her father's footsteps and become an attorney. However, her LSAT scores were very low so instead, she took a job at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for three months. During this period she also sometimes worked as a stand-up comedian.
Career: After her short time at Disney World, Blakely got a job with Danka, an office supply company. Her job was to sell fax machines door-to-door. She was very successful at this job and by the time he was 25, she was promoted to national sales trainer. This meant she had to dress professionally for work and in the 1990s, this meant pantyhose. Florida summers are notoriously hot and humid and Blakely hated the look of the seamed foot in open-toed shoes, however, she was a fan of how the control top got rid of panty lines and made her look slimmer. She experimented with cutting the feet off her pantyhose, but that just made them roll up her leg. The inspiration for what is now the very popular Spanx line was born!
When Blakely was 27, she moved to Atlanta for her job. She spent the next two years and her entire $5,000 in savings researching and developing her idea. She went to North Carolina, where most of the U.S.'s hosiery mills were, to present her idea. She was turned away again and again. No one saw the value of her idea. Then, two weeks after getting back to Atlanta, she got a call from a mill operator in Asheboro, North Carolina. He had mentioned Blakely's idea to his daughters who loved the concept and he offered to produce Blakely's shapewear.
The creation of the initial Spanx prototype was completed over the course of a year. Blakely went to a patent attorney to submit and finalize her application for a patent for Spanx. She worked on the packaging of her product. Then, Blakely called the buyer of her local Neiman Marcus and set up a meeting. During the meeting, she took the sales rep into a bathroom where she changed into her Spanx to prove the benefits of the product. The sales rep jumped at the chance to be the first to sell Blakely's shapewear. The buyer placed a test order of 7,000 pieces and Spanx debuted in seven Neiman Marcus stores. Then Blakely called up her friends and family, urging them to go into their local Neiman Marcus stores and make a big deal about the product. Soon Bloomingdale's, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman were selling Blakely's underpinnings.
Blakely was hands-on through all stages of Spanx's growth— including in product positioning and marketing. Crucially, she insisted that Spanx be sold in the shoe department, as opposed to the hosiery department. This set her product apart.
At about the same time, Blakely sent a basket of Spanx products to Oprah Winfrey's television show with a note describing her life story and how the product came to be. Six weeks later, in November 2000, Oprah named Spanx a "Favorite Thing," which sent sales and market awareness of Blakely's product soaring. It was then that Blakely finally quit her job at Danka. During the first year of sales, Spanx sold $4 million in product. In its second year, sales jumped to $10 million. Blakely signed a contract with QVC in 2001 and sold 8,000 pairs of Spanx in the first six minutes they were available for purchase.
Blakely and Spanx have never spent a dime on advertising. This is a product that grew entirely based on organic word of mouth and clever public relations. Blakely's sense of her product and the company she wanted to build has been nearly infallible from the start.
Almost as soon as Spanx took off, other companies began knocking off the shapewear and selling it at bargain-basement prices. Blakely foresaw this, which was one of the reasons she chose to start with high-end luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. Women who shop at that price point tend to be more brand loyal and less focused on price.
In 2007, Blakely made another smart move by partnering with Target to launch an exclusive lower-cost line of shapewear called Assets by Sara Blakely.
In 2005, Blakely attained second place as a contestant on "The Rebel Billionaire," a reality television series that introduced her to Richard Branson, who later supported Blakely in her endeavors as both an entrepreneur and philanthropist. She later starred as one of the judges on ABC's reality television series, "American Inventor," alongside George Foreman, Pat Croce, and Peter Jones. She was a guest investor on several episodes in seasons 9 and 10 of "Shark Tank."
In 2017, Spanx had estimated sales of $400 million. Blakely owns 100% of the private company and has never taken outside investment.
Personal Life: In 2008, Blakely married Jesse Itzler, the co-founder of Marquis Jet, in Boca Grande, Florida. The couple met at a Net Jet Poker Tournament and dated for a year before getting married. Their wedding was attended by Matt Damon and featured a surprise performance by Olivia Newton-John. Sara and Jesse have four children.
Blakely launched the Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006 to help women through education and entrepreneurial training. At the end of "The Rebel Billionaire," Richard Branson presented Blakely with a check for $750,000 to start her foundation. In 2013 Blakely became the first female billionaire to join the Giving Pledge, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's philanthropic incentive. Members of the Giving Pledge donate at least half of their wealth to charity during their lifetime.
In 2015, Blakely and Itzler were part of the group led by Tony Ressler that bought the NBA's Atlanta Hawks for $850 million.
In 2019, Blakely paid $162,500 for the black pants worn by Olivia Newton-John in "Grease." Proceeds from the auction benefited Newton-John's cancer treatment center in Melbourne, Australia.
Real Estate: In 2008, Blakely bought a three-bedroom, 3,093 square foot condo in Manhattan at 15 Central Park West for $12.11 million. She sold it in 2014 for $30 million, nearly tripling her investment.
|Net Worth:||$1.2 Billion|
|Date of Birth:||Feb 27, 1971 (49 years old)|
|Nationality:||United States of America|