I never dreamed visible panty lines and uncomfortable thongs would inspire me to become an inventor mentioned Sara Blakely creator of Spanx.
Like so many women, I bought clothes that looked amazing in a magazine or on the hanger, but in reality magnified every panty line and imperfection — clothes that eventually made their way to the "maybe one day I'll be flawless" section of my closet where they remained unworn.
With $5,000 in savings out of the back of my apartment, a whole lot of internet research, patent writing, cold-calling, less-than-shy demonstrations for buyers, and a call from Oprah...Spanx was born! (Sara Blakely stated in Forbes magazine)
For months Sara researched hosiery manufacturers on the internet and made several calls. She took weeks off of work, I drove around North Carolina begging companies to help with the idea. People always asked the same three questions: "And you are?" "And you are representing?" "And you are financially backed by?" When Sara answered she was to all three, most of them sent me away, not to mention they thought the idea "made no sense, and would never sell." Two weeks later Sara received a call from a mill owner who said he "decided to help make with her crazy idea."
Sara thought the packaging from the past panty house was boring. So, she decided to change the packaging. She had no idea what legally needed to be on the package, so she brought ten different types to compare each packing was different.
Once Sara produced the product, she called the buyer at Neiman Marcus introduced herself over the phone and said she had a product women can't live without. Then asked if she could have 10minutes of her time, willing to fly out to meet with her. Sara flew out to meet the buyer and during the meeting asked the women to try the product. They loved it.
Sara had no money to advertise. The first year traveled to various stores and malls with sales associates introducing the product.
This is a dream come true with her persistence, charm and hard work. Sara was featured on the Today Show, The View, The Tyra Banks Show, CNN, and countless other television programs and news channels, as well as in the pages of Forbes, Fortune, People, Entrepreneur, In Style, The New York Times, USA Today, Glamour, Vogue, and many more.
This is probably the start of something new. We're going to see a lot more women entrepreneurs on the Forbes billionaire lists in the coming years.
Blakely advice to young women with an entrepreneurial itch? Her To Five Startup tips:
1. Don't let the first no stop you
Before Blakely hit it big, she worked a handful of unglamorous jobs — all of which, she says, contributed to her eventual success with Spanx. She failed the Lsat twice and changed her mind about going to Law school. One job she worked in Disneyland wearing mickey mouse ears, guiding people to Epcot center and several of sales jobs.
2. Don't quit your day job yet
Jobs can be tiresome and not your career path but you need it to survive. The people you work with can be your potential clients.
3. Don't seek validation from others
When you have an idea, want to tell the world. Everyone has their own opinions and living off your dream. You want to tell people who can help you move forward not the ones who keep giving opinions. Don't solicit your product or idea for validation purposes.
4. Hire your people what your weakneses
Hire people that can offer your business what you may lack. For instance Sara implies she never attended fashion school or any formal business training but hired a woman who worked as an executive Cola Cola. Laurie Ann Goldman, has nbrought more structure and formal business planning to Spanx.
5. Never stop evolving
In a decade, Spanx’s catalog has grown from that initial pair of pantyhose to 200 products. While Spanx has been a hit in English-speaking Commonwealth countries, Asia is a huge target, followed by the Middle East. In the next decade, I see Spanx going worldwide,” Blakely says. “Everywhere. No butt left behind. It’s going to be all over the world and it’s going to be an aspirational brand that transcends categories. There’s so many things we can improve upon and make better.