Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs


9
Sara Blakely -- Spanx
Sara Blakely turned panty line frustration into a big business. Here, she opens her Haute Contour line at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Sara Blakely turned panty line frustration into a big business. Here, she opens her Haute Contour line at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

(1971- )

A woman with a college degree, a job selling copiers and a deep frustration with panty lines, Sara Blakely began with a few thousand dollars in savings and built Atlanta-based Spanx, a $150-million enterprise.

The hosiery brand was born in 1998, when Blakely couldn't find a way to hide thong lines beneath a pair of white pants. Shapers were too bulky, and stockings precluded the strappy sandals she wanted to wear. So she cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose and tried to ignore the way the edges rolled up around her ankles. She then spent two years developing a prototype.

In 2000, Spanx products made it into high-end department stores. Today they come in 100 different styles, including bras.

Up next: A fashion icon raised by nuns.

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