Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely

  • Billionaires
  • Entrepreneurs & Small Business
  • DOB:

    February 27, 1971

  • Age:


  • Country:

    United States

  • Resides:


  • Hometown:

    Clearwater, FL

  • Known For:

    Founder of Spanx

  • Spouse/Partner:

    Jesse Itzler

  • Religion:


  • Education:

    Florida State University



Sara Blakely is an American businesswoman, inventor, and philanthropist best known as the founder of Spanx. This intimate apparel company specializes in shapewear, undergarments, leggings, swimwear, and maternity wear and is available in over 50 countries. In 2012, Forbes named Blakely the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. In the same year, TIME included her on the list of 100 Most Influential People.[1] As of 2023, Sara Blakely’s estimated net worth is $1.1 billion.[2]  


  • Founder of Spanx
  • Became the world’s youngest self-made, female billionaire in 2012
  • Named TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2012

Related People

About Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely was born on February 27, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida, to parents John and Ellen Blakely.[3] Her father, John Blakely, was a trial attorney, while her mother, Ellen Ford Blakely, was an artist.[4] Blakely grew up in a supportive family that encouraged her to embrace failure as a learning experience. Her father often asked her and her brother, Ford, what they had failed at during the week as a way to foster resilience and a growth mindset.[5]

Blakely attended Clearwater High School,[6] where she was an active participant in various extracurricular activities, including cheerleading.[7] She later enrolled at Florida State University (FSU) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.[8] During her time at FSU, Blakely was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and worked various part-time jobs to support herself, including selling fax machines door-to-door.[9] [10] 

After graduating from college, Blakely planned to attend law school, following in her father’s footsteps. However, she did not perform well on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and abandoned her law school plans. Instead, she took a job at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.[8]

In 2008, Blakely married Jesse Itzler, an entrepreneur, author, and former rapper from Long Island, New York.[11] [8] The couple has four children, Lazer, Charlie, Lincoln, and Tepper, born between 2009 and 2016.[12] 


Sara Blakely’s journey to create Spanx started when she was working as a door-to-door fax machine salesperson. One day she realized she did not like the path she was on. She explains,  “So I wrote down on a piece of paper the things that I was good at, and one of them was sales. I just started thinking about that, and I ended up writing down in my journal, ‘I want to invent a product that I can sell to millions of people that will make them feel good.’”[10] 

In a moment of inspiration, Blakely decided to cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose to achieve the desired look of shapewear, and the idea for Spanx was born.[8] 

Blakely spent the next two years researching patents, visiting hosiery mills, and learning everything she could about the undergarment industry. While she had no formal background in fashion or manufacturing, she persevered, using her marketing and sales skills to promote her innovative product.[10] In 1998, Blakely invested her life savings of $5,000 to launch Spanx.[7] 

Blakely’s product began selling in seven Neiman Marcus stores after she convinced a buyer at the department store to carry her product.[1] Spanx was profitable from day one, earning $4 million in revenue in its first year and $10 million in the second.[8] But its popularity exploded in 2000 when Oprah Winfrey named Spanx her favorite product of the year.[7] 

As the company grew, Blakely continued to diversify the product line, expanding from footless pantyhose to a wide range of shapewear, undergarments, leggings, swimwear, and maternity wear.[1] 

In 2021, the Blackstone Group acquired a majority stake in Spanx, valuing the company at $1.2 billion.[13] In celebration of the deal, Blakely gave each of her employees $10,000 and two first-class plane tickets to a destination of their choice.[14] Today, Spanx is a global brand with products sold in over 50 countries.[1] 


Sara Blakely is known not only for her business success but also for her philanthropic efforts. In 2013, she became the first female billionaire to join The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to give away the majority of their wealth to address society’s most pressing problems.[15]  

Blakely has focused her philanthropic efforts on empowering women and girls worldwide. In 2006, she launched the Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through entrepreneurship, education, and the arts. The foundation has supported various initiatives, including providing scholarships for young women and partnering with organizations like the Malala Fund to promote education for girls.[16] 

In addition to her foundation, Blakely has donated millions of dollars to other causes, such as disaster relief efforts and fighting human trafficking. In 2020, she pledged $5 million to support small female-run businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. [17] 

Sara Blakely Quotes

  • “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset.”[18] 
  • “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”[19] 
  • “You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a Polaroid picture of where you’re going to be in a few years.”[20] 
  • “Money is fun to make, fun to spend, and fun to give away.”[21] 
  • “I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course.”[19] 

Sara Blakely Today

Blakely lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia, and remains the executive chair at Spanx.[22] She enjoys doing yoga each morning before helping her kids get ready for school.[23] As an influential business leader, Blakely often shares her thoughts on LinkedIn, where she is a “Top Voice” and has over 2.2 million followers.[24]


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  1. About SPANX LLC. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  2. Sara Blakely. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2023, from 
  3. Sara Blakely – Wiki. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from
  4. Rogers, D. (2012). Billionaire Spanx Founder Sara Blakely Has Bay City Connection. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from 
  5. In The Know. (2022, June 15). Spanx founder shares dad’s powerful lesson on the importance of failure: ‘what did you guys fail at this week?’ Retrieved May 2, 2023, from 
  6. Southmayd, C. (2007, February 08). Hometown Girl makes american dream come true. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from 
  7. Groer, A. (2012, March 10). Spanx inventrix Sara Blakely breaks the billionaire mold. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from
  8. O’Connor, C. (2012). How Sara Blakely of Spanx Turned $5,000 into $1 billion. Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  9.  Zamkov, P. (2016). Famous Business Women Who Are in Sororities. Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  10. Bankoff, C. (2016, October 31). How selling fax machines helped make Spanx inventor Sara Blakely a billionaire. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from
  11. Locke, V. (2008, October 18). Magical Devotion–Atlanta Weddings. 
  12. Parker, G. (2023). 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Sara Blakely. Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  13. Blackstone Buys Majority Stake in SPANX, Inc. – Blackstone. (2021). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  14. Burke, M. Spanx founder Sara Blakely gifts employees plane tickets, $10,000. (2021). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  15. Northwestern Mutual. (2015, April 06). Northwestern Mutual Brandvoice: Sara Blakely first woman billionaire to sign giving pledge. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from
  16.  20 Amazing Stats and Facts about Sara Blakely | HelloLeads CRM Blogs and Insights. (2022). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from
  17. Gross, E. (2020). Sara Blakely Is Giving $5 Million To Support Female-Run Small Businesses. Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  18. Sara Blakely Quote: “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It…”. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  19. Sara Blakely Quotes – BrainyQuote. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  20. Sara Blakely Quote: “You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a polaroid picture of where you’re going to…”. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  21. Sara Blakely Quote: “Money is fun to make, fun to spend and fun to give away.”. (2023). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  22. Kavilanz, P. (2022). Spanx names a new CEO | CNN Business. Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  23. Hao. Sara Blakely: Daily Routine – Balance The Grind. (2020). Retrieved 2 May 2023, from 
  24. Sara Blakely – founder – spanx | linkedin. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2023, from 

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