Given the current economic slowdown in the United States, is Spanx the latest proof that with hard work and a brilliant product, one can still achieve great financial success in America?
By: Ringo Bones
A few years ago, Sara Blakely could have been just another statistical blip in the still ongoing economic slowdown of the American economy, yet she has become the proof that the “American Dream” is still alive and well where anyone willing to work hard to market their brilliant ideas can still make it big in the United States. Sara Blakely recently became the youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world after the company she founded – Spanx, Inc. – became a runaway commercial success despite starting with only 5,000 US dollars in hand.
Spanx, Inc. – from a 5,000 US dollar start up to a billion-dollar company is indeed proof positive that the American Dream is still alive and well in an America still plagued with mass unemployment despite a healthy stock-market turnover. Sara Blakely’s legless pantyhose idea is born out of noticing rather mundane problems faced by Sara and every woman elsewhere with less-than-perfect figure and visible panty-line concerns when wearing the latest fashions primarily designed for waif-thin fashion models with Madison Avenue ad-men seal of approval. And thanks to Blakely’s never-give-up ethic gained from a young age and during her first day-job working 8-hours a day as a door-to-door fax machine salesperson, fashion-conscious women with rather less than perfect figures and rather limited budgets can now look the part of Madison Avenue ad-men approved fashionistas, as her Spanx is now marketed in over 150 countries around the world.
Ironically, Sara Blakely never took traditional business classes before and also never worked a single day in the American fashion industry when first she set up her now billion dollar startup company Spanx, Inc. Stranger still, she always wanted to be a lawyer but was taken aback after she failed the LSAT or Law School Admission Test exams. The bulk of her 5,000 US dollar start up was spent on patenting the idea of her legless pantyhose and ultra-flexible body shaping fashion accessory. The proprietary Spandex-Lycra weave of Spanx was then patented with the help of a patent lawyer for between 3,000 to 5,000 US dollars after an on-line research on the US Patent office website by Blakely had revealed that her idea is genuinely unique and no one like it had ever been patented and marketed – which even surprised her.
As a now "miracle" startup company, virtually no money was spent on advertising when Sara Blakely’s Spanx was first marketed in Sachs Fifth Avenue and Neeman Marcus stores and sales slowly grew by the first batch of satisfied customers’ word of mouth alone. Sara Blakely chose to name her ingenious invention as Spanx primarily after the proprietary Spandex and Lycra mix of her legless pantyhose and also on the runaway commercial success of consumer products with a “hard-K” sound in them – like Kodak and Coca Cola.