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The portrait of Today the eco is that of an extraordinary boss, the billionaire Sara Blakely, 50, founder of Spanx, the brand of shaping underwear, in vogue in the United States.
Sara Blakely is giving each of her 750 employees, all women, two first class plane tickets to anywhere in the world, and a $ 10,000 envelope!
The ” best boss in the world As some call it in the United States, shares its profits with those to whom it owes, she says, its success.
Sara Blakely, is the symbol of the American dream. Daughter of an artist mother and a lawyer father living in Florida, this tall, jovial blonde is missing her law studies. Whatever. She goes on odd jobs, and goes door to door to sell faxes. She is even a humorist for a while! But getting dressed in the morning is quite a story so she has fun cutting her tights to refine her buttocks and legs. The idea germinates and she decides to invest all her savings, 5,000 dollars, to make her first shaping panties in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sara Blakely recounts her debut on CNBC television. ” I didn’t know what to wear under most of my clothes! My underwear didn’t fit, you could see it through everything I was wearing. In short, I was a frustrated consumer. I had not gone to business school, but I wanted to invent ‘the’ underwear that would shape my figure. When I entered the tights factory twenty years ago to have a prototype made, I realized that I was the only woman in the building! It blew me away. I said to myself: these are the women I want to emancipate through sculpting underwear that is much more practical and comfortable than those made by people who don’t wear them all day! This is how Spanx became the basis of our wardrobes. »
BlackStone enters the dance
But success is not immediate. The look of granny’s certainly comfortable underwear is not a seller… Sara Blakely has to hang on to convince the stores. Until big names adopted it. Famous TV host Oprah Winfrey advertises it on her talk show, even former First Lady Michelle Obama admits wearing the “Spanx” with pride. Sales are taking off. Today, Spanx is also pants, sportswear, a range for men.
What interest the BlackStone fund which acquires in October a majority share of the company valuing it at more than a billion dollars.
Ann Chung, who led the negotiations for Blakestone, recounts. ” What we have seen in Spanx is an amazing brand! When Sara and I were chatting, she revealed to us that women most often say they are thankful that Spanx exists. », explains Ann Chung on CNBC. “This strong, genuine emotional connection between a brand and a consumer is very rare these days. Added to this is the exceptional growth of the company, the tight-knit team that Sara has formed around her. There is also the launch of new Spanx products and the digital transformation of the company … , from which we can build. »
It took all the same twenty years for Sara Blakely to lose weight… So why now?
« People have been suggesting to me to buy Spanx or invest in the company for twenty years, but since I always act with my guts, I thought to myself.I will know when it is the right time. I was also afraid of making a mistake in the choice of an investor. But when I met the Blackstone team, I noted that we were in phase with the future of the brand, the desire to contribute to the emancipation of women with an all-female staff. It reassured me for approach this new turning point for the Mark. »
Outside of business, this mother of four, married to rapper and entrepreneur Jesse Itzler, has started a solidarity fund to support girls’ education around the world and help women get into business.