The success story of Sara Blakely, creator of women’s shapewear company Spanx, continues to inspire entrepreneurs, especially women. The company she founded with just $5,000 of her own savings in 2000 grew rapidly to make her a billionaire—the youngest self-made female billionaire as named by Forbes—by 2012 at age 41.
Founder and CEO, Spanx
Net worth: $1.2 billion
Sara Blakely is the founder of Spanx, Inc., a women’s brand that makes hosiery, shapewear, leggings, and other items to help women feel more comfortable and look their best. The company was launched in 2000 and was valued at $1 billion in 2012. The newly announced deal with Blackstone values Spanx at $1.2 billion, making Blakely once again a billionaire.
Date of Birth: February 27, 1971
Spouse: Jessie Itzler
Spanx's sale price to Blackstone
Despite waning pandemic sales, the company has begun to bounce back, and now a private equity company is buying a majority stake in Spanx. Blakely will remain involved in the company as a significant shareholder but is selling most of it to Blackstone in a deal valuing the company at $1.2 billion.
On Oct. 20, the deal for Blackstone to buy Spanx was announced, valuing Spanx at $1.2 billion. Blakely will be the company’s executive chairperson following the deal. The stake Blakely will retain in the company is unknown and could be as much as 49 percent.
Global Head of Consumer for Blackstone Growth Ann Chungcalled Blakely “an iconic businesswoman.” She also stated, “We’re honored that Sara and her team have placed their trust in Blackstone as their partner of choice to further accelerate SPANX’s digital transformation and growth." Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. represented Spanx in the transaction, and JPMorgan Chase was Blackstone's financial advisor.
Sara Blakely’s founder story at Spanx
Sara Blakely started her company with a solution to a problem and no business experience. She was selling office supplies and fax machines when she recognized a need for slimming undergarments.
She has said in interviews that she hid the business idea from her loved ones early on “because I believe that ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy,” reports CNBC. She knew they would discourage her out of love, and she didn’t want to be deterred.
Blakely is the definition of a bootstrapper, having created her first product by cutting the feet off her pantyhose. She used just $5,000 of her own savings to start the brand and eventually wrote her own patent.
Sara Blakely’s family
Blakely is married to Jessie Itzler, the co-founder of Marquis Jet. They've been married since 2008 and have four children.
How much is Sara Blakely worth today?
Blakely’s net worth is tied to the success of the company and can fluctuate. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decrease in weddings and other events for which women might typically buy Spanx undergarments, which impacted the company’s revenue.
In June 2021, Forbes estimated Blakely’s net worth to be $750 million, but following the agreement with Blackstone, she now has an estimated $1.2 billion net worth as of Oct. 2021.