Entrepreneur Sara Blakely is known for founding Spanx, an intimate clothing company that sells shaping briefs and leggings. Sara is listed among the most influential women in the world and was the youngest self-made female billionaire in 2012. According to Forbes Magazine, Sara Blakely has a net worth of $1 billion in 2024. Her husband Jesse Itzler is worth an estimated $200 million!
Sara was born on February 27, 1971 and is the eldest child of Ellen Ford, an artist, and a trial lawyer named John Blakely. She grew up in Tampa, Florida, with her younger brother, Ford.
Blakely attended Clearwater High School and graduated in 1989. She later enrolled in Florida State University and finished with a degree in communication.
She planned to pursue law, but changed her mind after getting a bad grade on the Law School Admission Test. Instead, she took various jobs at Disney World Florida and worked as a stand-up comedian during her free time.
After her brief stint at Disney, Blakely was hired as a salesperson by Danka, an office supply provider. Tasked with selling fax machines door-to-door, she was amazing at it and was promoted to a sales trainer.
During work, she had to wear uncomfortable pantyhose. Thus, she experimented with the hose by cutting the feet off and got her desired results. This also made her body look firmer and a new business idea was born.
Blakely spent two years perfecting her hosiery idea. In 2000, she used $5,000 of her savings to create and market the product. Then she officially launched Spanx and modeled the products as she couldn’t afford to hire a model.
Not long after Sara launched her startup, Oprah Winfrey revealed Spanx was one of her favorite products. This led to a massive surge in sales on the back of the free publicity. In 2001, Blakely signed a deal with the home shopping network QVC to scale her business to the next level.
In 2006, the rising entrepreneur started the Sara Blakely Foundation for women after placing second in The Rebel Billionaire reality show. The following year, she launched an exclusive lower-cost collection of shapewear named Assets in collaboration with Target.
This helped her become the youngest self-made female billionaire in 2012. With this, she was invited to star in several reality series. Most notably, she was a recurring investor on some episodes of Shark Tank’s seasons nine to ten and a judge on American Inventor.
Net Worth and Earnings
During Spanx’s first year in the industry, it did $4 million in sales and $10 million in the second year. Today Spanx is valued at $1.2 billion, which was the price that the Blackstone Group bought a majority stake in the business in 2021.
Blakely remained as CEO of the business despite selling some equity. Over the years, she has also made numerous investments in other growing businesses. In addition, she earns extra income as an occasional TV personality. All of these activities helped Sara Blakely achieve a $1.1 billion fortune.
Blakely is married to Jesse Itzler who is a successful entrepreneur in his own right. The couple initially met at a NetJet Poker Tournament, and they eventually tied the knot in 2008. Currently, they are living with their four children in Atlanta, Georgia.