Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder

While we appear to be skipping Forbes 91st most powerful woman in Chua Sock Koong, SingTel’s Group CEO, we have actually talked about her prior to this most powerful series. And so, we now go to the 90th ranked – Sara Blakely, Founder of undergarment company, Spanx.

Spanx Founder Sara Blakely

Spanx Founder Sara Blakely

Looking at Blakely’s background, we could say that she comes from a “middle-class” family.. that being a daughter of a personal injury lawyer and an artist – and so, she graduated from Florida State University with a degree in communications.

Well, parents indeed have a certain influence especially in one’s early career choices – and Blakely is no different. In her case, she wanted to be a lawyer but as fate would have it, she did poorly on the LSAT leaving her with a decision to find work with Walt Disney and then with Danka where she conceived an idea on hosieries.

5k Capital

One of the more admirable things in Blakely is how she started Spanx – basically with a good idea and just $5,000. From researching while she was still with Danka to patenting her idea to incorporating her company to doing what it takes to make the business take off – $5,000 is still just $5,000.

Of course, Oprah Winfrey really got the ball rolling after she named Spanx as her favorite product some time November 2000. That’s like free marketing and endorsement from a top celebrity. Thus, it’s good to note that many times, when you do “good” things, you’d get noticed.

Giving Pledge

Just several months ago, Blakely hit the headlines by being the first female billionaire to sign up for Giving Pledge, a group that urges the world’s richest to give half of their wealth to charity.

Now what’s striking here is not that Blakely is a woman donating to charity (she’s even set up a foundation to help women through education and training), many women could do that, but she’s barely a billionaire and still a young one at that – that has pledged to “let go” half of her wealth.

Okay, okay, would Giving Pledge take her 50 per cent upon signing up? Well? Besides, she still retains half of her wealth and would, of course, continue to do business – this means, she and her family would still live in style. The only issue here would be “motivation”; knowing that you hardly made the rich list and your efforts would only be 50 per cent rewarded is the real sacrifice. And only good people could do that.

What’s your take?