Sara Blakely is a businesswoman who was born in Clearwater, Florida, on February 27, 1971. She is best-known as the inventor and founder of the Spanx brand which sells intimate apparel, pants, and leggings. She was inspired to create the Spanx range after wearing pantyhose with open-toed shoes in warm weather for her role as a salesperson. She liked the support the garment gave around her midriff and the fact that it eliminated panty lines but she did not like having a seam showing at her feet. She decided to try to make her own design that used the pros of pantyhose but got rid of the disadvantages. Hence, Spanx was born. Here are ten more things you might not know about Sara Blakely.
1. She Personally Tested Her Invention
When she first made prototypes of her invention, she personally tested the products to ensure they were fit for purpose and comfortable. The first prototype was a pair of pantyhose with the feet simply removed. She wore them under a pair of slacks to a function. She found that they continually rolled up her leg. Despite this, this pair of pantyhose is still at the Spank headquarters.
2. She Was a Contestant on ‘The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best’
This reality show was aired on Fox and was based on Richard Branson setting challenges for 16 billionaires to see who was best-suited to take over as president of Virgin. The show was in a different country each episode. Sara Blakely came second in the competition with Shawn Nelson winning the series.
3. She Was a Judge on’ American Inventors’
Another television show in which Sara Blakely appeared was ‘American Inventors’. She was a judge on the show along with Peter Jones, Pat Croce, and George Foreman. This show featured inventors who were given money to improve their invention and compete to win the prize in a grand finale.
4. She Wrote Her Own Patent
Blakely spent $5000 of her savings developing her idea before she tried to get a patent. She tried to find a female patent lawyer in Georgia only to find that there were none. She got quotes from lawyers who specialized in patents and found that it could cost up to $5000. Unwilling to spend this, she bought a book about patents from Barnes & Noble and wrote her own patent.
5. She is Married to Jessie Itzler
Sara Blakely has been married to Jessie Itzler since 2008. He is the co-founder of Marquis Jet. The couple celebrated their nuptials at the Gasparilla Inn and Club in Boca Grande, Florida. Olivia Newton-John sang at the wedding and Matt Damon was one of the guests.
6. She Has Four Children
Blakely and Itzler have four children together. Their first son, Lazer Blake, was born in 2009. In June 2014, Blakely gave birth to twin boys, Charlie and Lincoln. They then had a daughter called Tepper in 2016.
7. She Failed the Law School Entrance Exam
Blakely attended Clearwater High School and then Florida State University where she received a degree in communications. While at university, she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She had then planned to become an attorney. However, her score for the Law School Admission Test was very low and she failed to win a place.
8. She Sold Photocopiers for Seven Years
After leaving university, she briefly worked at Disney and also did a stint as a stand-up comedian. She then got a job selling office supplies, such as fax machines and photocopiers. She was a successful salesperson and, by the age of 25, she was promoted to national sales trainer.
9. She Founded the ‘Sara Blakely Foundation’
She founded the Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006. This was something she had wanted to do before she even founded Spanx. It is a non-profit organization that helps women through entrepreneurial training and education. When Blakely competed in ‘The Rebel Billionaire’, Richard Branson gave her a check for $750,000 to help start the Sara Blakely Foundation.
10. She is a Minority Owner of the Atlanta Hawks
Although Blakely’s main business interest is Spanx, she is also a minority owner of Atlanta Hawks. This is a basketball team based in Atlanta that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Home games take place at the Philips Arena.