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The road to success is rarely smooth, but with entrepreneurial vision those bumps become welcome challenges. Meet Sara Blakely, named as the youngest female self-made billionaire in the world by Forbes magazine.

Fourteen years ago a 29-year old Sara Blakely found herself in a pantyhose predicament that she initially didn’t know how to solve – she bought a pair of expensive white trousers and could not find any undergarment that ensured a smooth look.

Instead of returning the pricey pants and giving up, Sara saw this rather unflattering scenario as a problem waiting to be solved and so started to work on a hosiery-type product that would offer women comfort, support and above all, confidence. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know – this can be your greatest strength,” says Sara.

Calling her newfound product Spanx and backed by her $5,000 life savings (and those inspiring white pants), Sara worked for two years, while being formally employed, and developed her idea for footless hosiery in her spare time. Product research, fabrics, competitors, patents, laws, distribution, retailers, designs, sales and packaging – she did it all! After successfully teaming up with a manufacturer who was keen to “make her crazy idea work”, Sara quickly got her Spanx on the shelves of major retailers. But it was in the year 2000 when Oprah Winfrey championed Spanx as part of her annual “My favourite Things” episode, that Sara’s pioneering shapewear struck gold.

Named as the youngest female self-made billionaire in the world by Forbes magazine in 2011, Sara’s progression has been phenomenal and women everywhere can’t get enough of her more than 100 different products (she even has Spanx for men). Still actively involved in the daily running of Spanx and strongly focused on The Sara Blakely foundation, which is dedicated to helping women globally through education and entrepreneurship, Sara Blakely’s story of unstoppable tenacity proves that one woman and one product can make a difference. “I’ve always been grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue my potential. So I think my story says that, when women are given the chance and the opportunity, we can achieve a lot.”


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