Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Wear a Badge: Sara Blakely, Delta Delta Delta

The theme for Women’s History Month in 2017 is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Business and Labor.” Throughout March, we’ll be sharing the stories of sorority women who made history in these areas. The efforts of these sorority women advance the cause of all women, and we are grateful for their efforts.
From Sara's Notebook (credit)

Meet the youngest self-made female billionaire in America: Sorority woman Sara Blakely.

Blakely is the founder and sole owner of Spanx, a shapewear company that has taken the world by storm in the past two decades. She is also a member of Delta Delta Delta from Florida State University.

Blakely’s journey is unlike many other entrepreneurs. She credits failure for propelling her to the top of her industry. Every week at dinner growing up, Blakely’s father would ask her and her brother, “What did you fail at this week?” They would rejoice and celebrate her failures. She said in an interview with CNBC that, “The gift he was giving me is that failure is when you are not trying. Failure is not the outcome. It's really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life."

Growing up, Blakely had always dreamed of being a lawyer, but failed the entrance exams: not once, but twice. She then worked in sales selling fax machines. Spanx was born when she saw a need for comfortable shapewear that fit the modern woman’s needs.

Blakely had never taken a business class, had no training, no retail experience and was entering a steadily declining market. Regardless, she was driven by a purpose and a cause she believed in; one she knew would help make a difference in the lives of women. And, she was guided by the principle that even if she failed, she had tried and she could learn and grow from it.

Today, Blakely speaks often about her experience and why we should not fear failure; rather we should celebrate it. And, the value of philanthropy instilled through her sorority experience is still near and dear to her heart. She created the Sara Blakely Foundation to donate millions to charities around the world, focusing on those that empower underserved women and girls. Additionally, in 2013, she signed the Giving Pledge to donate at least half her wealth to charity.

Resources:
  • Caprino, K. (2012, May 23). 10 lessons I learned from Sara Blakely that you won’t hear in business school. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2012/05/23/10-lessons-i-learned-from-sara-blakely-that-you-wont-hear-in-business-school/#7277a9831438
  • Frank, R. (2013, October 16). Billionaire Sara Blakely says secret to success is failure. CNBC. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2013/10/16/billionaire-sara-blakely-says-secret-to-success-is-failure.html
  • Kimball, D. (2015, July 26). Sara Blakely: The college years. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.darrylkimball.net/darrylkimballblog/2015/7/26/sara-blakely-the-college-years
  • Turtis, M. (2012, March 15). Sara Blakely: 9 things you don’t know about Spanx founder, and youngest Forbes billionaire. Glamour. Retrieved from http://www.glamour.com/story/sarah-blakely-9-things-you-don

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