The Spanx phenomenon

Anyone who pays any attention to the women’s fashion industry will know the name “Spanx“. It was coined by serendipitous entrepreneur Sara Blakely, when she founded her company in 2000. Sara Blakely started with a bachelors degree in communications and subsequently went into product sales (photo copiers and fax machines). She was doing well for several years, when she noticed that the market lacked a particular women’s garment. She couldn’t stand having panty lines show up on her clothing, which was easily remedied by wearing pantyhose. But in the warmer months, she didn’t want her sandal clad feet to show she was wearing hosiery.  She couldn’t find any footless support pantyhose anywhere in the stores. In a moment of clever problem solving, she simply cut the feet off a pair of  pantyhose, a few inches above the ankle. Low and behold, this worked like a charm. To make them last, Sara would sew a small hem at the bottom with elastic, to prevent runs and help keep them from riding up. Appearance conscious friends learned about her little secret and began asking her to make some for them.  She did this for a while and then it eventually dawned on her that she should make her own commercial product.  She eventually got a patent for her idea and went full bore into the effort to create a commercial product.  The year was 1998.  She faced a lot of hurdles, especially with finding a manufacturer, but was determined to surmount them and on her own as much as possible (read the full story here). Somehow she got the idea to send a bunch of prototypes as a gift basket to Oprah, who actually received and tried them on, was totally thrilled with their effect, and invited Sara onto her talk show. From there, Sara’s business took off like a rocket. She quit her day job and went into this endeavor full steam ahead and has made many millions in sales.  She still owns 100% of her business!  Impressive, to say the least.

Sara Blakely with Spanx
The sweet smile of success

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