“The difference between people who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is simple,” according to Spanx founder and CEO Sara Blakely. “It’s about action,” she said in an Instagram post in November.
“It’s not about having a ton of brains or ton of money or a ton of experience,” according to Blakely. “Two decades ago, I was just a girl with a crappy day job and a crazy idea. I didn’t have a ton of money, experience, or knowledge of the industry. But I decided to go for it.”
Indeed, Blakely started Spanx in 1998 with just $5,000 she had in savings from selling fax machines door-to-door. Without having any background in design, business, or manufacturing, Blakely ultimately built Spanx into a billion-dollar brand.
At her start, Blakely had doors slammed in her face and had her business cards ripped up; she struggled to get funding. And she had to “go for it” to get Spanx into its first major retailer: After repeatedly cold calling a buyer for Neiman Marcus, Blakely asked the buyer to join her in the bathroom during their meeting so she could show her how Spanx worked.
“In the middle of my meeting with [the Neiman Marcus rep], I could tell I was losing her. And I just knew it was my one shot. So I said, ‘Will you come with me to the bathroom?’ And she just paused. She goes, ‘Excuse me?’ I go, ‘I know, I know, it’s a little weird. Will you just please come with me to the bathroom? I want to show you my own product before and after,’” Blakely told Guy Raz during an episode of “How I Built This” in 2016.
“I went in the stall and put Spanx on underneath [my clothes] and came out. And she looked at me, and she goes, ‘Wow, I get it. It’s brilliant.’”
Blakely said on Instagram that with Spanx, “I could have easily sat back and continued to say, ‘One day.’ I could have kept dreaming, hoping, and wishing. But instead, I started doing it, and one day became day one, 20 years ago. And that’s what made all the difference.”