Happy Accidents #004 - Spanx
From Fax Machines to Fantastic Undies: The Accidental Journey of Sara Blakely and Spanx
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Gather round and get ready for the story of how one woman's quest for the perfect pair of white pants led to the creation of a revolutionary new product.
Today, we're shining the spotlight on Sara Blakely, the woman who went from selling fax machines door-to-door to revolutionizing the world of shapewear and creating a multi-million-dollar empire with her company, Spanx.
Let’s dig in…
Back in the day, Sara was just your average door-to-door salesperson, hustling fax machines to make ends meet. Little did she know her skills in sales and persistence would one day lead her to start a company that would change the game for women's undergarments forever.
It all started when Sara was getting ready for a party and realized she had a major wardrobe malfunction.
The problem? No undergarments that would work with her favorite white pants and still allow her to wear sandals as her footwear for the evening.
In a stroke of genius (or desperation), she cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose and voila! Spanx were born! Blakely decided to take her idea for the new product and run with it.
But the journey was just beginning…
From there, Sara faced numerous challenges and rejections in her attempts to get her product produced and sold in stores. But she never gave up and eventually, a buyer from Neiman Marcus took a chance on her and the rest is history.
Today, Spanx is a multi-million-dollar empire, offering a wide range of body-shaping undergarments for both women and men. And all because of one woman's innovative solution to a common problem.
Blakely notes that countless women have reached out to her to say they were cutting the feet off their pantyhose for years but are kicking themselves because they never thought to pursue it as a business idea.
But it was Blakely who had both the idea and the persistence to make it happen.
So, the next time you encounter a serendipitous situation like this, just remember the story of Spanx and how one happy accident can lead to a world of success.
Some fun facts:
- Sara Blakely created Spanx in her apartment with only $5,000 in savings.
- Spanx is named after the word "spanks," which is slang for tight pants.
- In 2012, Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world.
- Spanx has been featured in numerous TV shows and movies, including Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada and worn by countless celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
- In 2020, Sara Blakely pledged to give away half of her wealth to charity through the Giving Pledge.
The lessons here:
- Solve a problem you personally face: Sara Blakely created Spanx after being frustrated with the lack of options for smooth, comfortable undergarments. By identifying a problem she faced, she was able to create a solution that filled a gap in the market.
- Be persistent: Sara Blakely faced numerous rejections when trying to get Spanx into stores, but she didn't give up. Her persistence paid off when she eventually found success.
- Think outside the box: Sara Blakely took a unique approach to shaping undergarments by using a footless design. Her innovative approach helped set Spanx apart from other shapewear brands.
- Believe in yourself: Sara Blakely took a risk by quitting her job and starting Spanx with limited savings, but she believed in herself and her idea. Her self-belief, combined with her hard work, helped her turn Spanx into a successful company.
YOUR Happy Accidents
Check out this incredible Happy Accident story that Nikhil Deshpande shared on Twitter last week about how responding to a random comment on Facebook completely changed his life!
Do you have your own Happy Accident story? Some fortunate coincidence that led to a lucky break or cool discovery? I'd love to hear it!
Reply to this email and share it with me. It might just get featured in a future Happy Accidents edition!
Happy Accidents is brought to you by Dennis Geelen
Author of the best selling book, The Accidental Solopreneur