In the beginning…
Sara was selling fax machines door-to-door in her mid-twenties, people pushing her out, slamming doors, not taking her seriously. She quickly realised this was not the life she expected. She decided she was going to innovate and start a business, not sure what that business would be, she opened her eyes and ears to ideas.
I’m not in the right movie.
One evening Sara wanted to wear white jeans without the line of normal underwear. She cut the feet off her tights (‘pantyhose’ you say in America) and realised there was an idea, to make women’s shape wear, something never considered by the fashion industry before. Spanx was born!
I believe that ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy Source: NPR
She worked on the idea in secret for a year before telling even her closet family, she believed the people closest to you want to protect you and can subsequently tear down your ideas, cushioning you from risk.
I’m Sara Blakely, and I invented a product that is going to change the way your customers wear clothes. And if you give me a few minutes of your time, I’ll fly to Dallas and show you. Source: NPR
Was it a success?
She was the youngest self made billionaire in America… until Kylie Jenner, so yes! Sara rang up Neiman Marcus and booked a ten minute meeting. Mid meeting, Sara could see the buyer was losing interest so she invited her to the bathroom, showed her the difference with and without under white pants and ta da! she had an order with trials in seven stores.
By the end of the second year Spanx’s had made over $10 million.
Today, Spanx has an estimated $400 million in yearly sales. (CNBC) To which Sara is the 100% sole owner and CEO.
How did Sara not fear failure?
In her youth, Sara’s father would ask at dinner, “What did you fail at this week?” Unknowingly the exercise was teaching Sara failure is a consequence of trying and without failures you will never achieve anything. She became proud of her failures as examples of her efforts to grow.
Redefining your life
Sara asks her staff, “If no one told you how to do your job, how would you do it?” She encourages staff to reassess themselves and their work to creative an innovate and modernised workforce. You can also learn from how Sara started with $5000 and made her business, with incredible determination, into a billion $ business.
Spanx now sell to the men and women of the world in shape wear, clothing and accessories. Its a phenomenal business with potential to continue growing bigger and better. I would also recommend Sara’s LinkedIn for more entrepreneurial motivation.