March 8, 2012

"I cut the feet off my pantyhose and wore them underneath... But they rolled up my legs all night."

"I remember thinking, 'I've got to figure out how to make this.' I'd never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn't exist."

How Sara Blakeley invented Spanx... and became a billionaire.

35 comments:

phx said...
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edutcher said...

A great idea, but growing the business is what counts.

phx said...
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Bender said...

Feetless pantyhose?

You mean like long underwear, prior art which has been around forever?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Heh. A staff of 125 and only 16 are male. Funny how the article mentions that lack of diversity with pride.

phx said...
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bagoh20 said...

As a man, I want this product banned. It's diverting dollars away from helpful undergarments and birth control.

phx said...
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Chuck66 said...

Back in the 90s, I used to cut the elastic off the bottom of my sweat pants. Not sure what I invented, but I should have patented it.

Chuck66 said...

According to gov't regulations, the only proof you need to discrimination is statistical eviedence. Unless 88% of their community is female, then they discriminate.

EDH said...

"I cut the feet off my pantyhose and wore them underneath... But they rolled up my legs all night."

How Sara Blakeley invented Spanx... and became a billionaire.


FIRESIGN THEATER

Porgy: So you see, Mudhead, it's like the Pooper said, with counter subversive educational priorities the way they are, well, it really helps our side to re-enlist.

Mudhead: Is that what you're gonna do?

Porgy: Aw, hell no! Right after I graduate I'm going to cut the soles off my shoes, sit in a tree, and learn to play the flute.

Ralph L said...

This type of undergarment used to be called "foundations". In the early 20's, my newlywed grandmother sold so many, they moved her to Ladies' Ready to Wear. She saved enough money in a few years to buy a $300 mohair sofa, still in use.

Bruce Hayden said...

Feetless pantyhose?

You mean like long underwear, prior art which has been around forever?


The problem with that is that the key to the invention is that Spanx are body slimming. And, none of my long underwear are.

Back in the 90s, I used to cut the elastic off the bottom of my sweat pants. Not sure what I invented, but I should have patented it.

That is the problem - what was the utility of your invention? If you can't think of it, and can't articulate it, then you probably did not have a patentable invention.

Bruce Hayden said...

This type of undergarment used to be called "foundations". In the early 20's, my newlywed grandmother sold so many, they moved her to Ladies' Ready to Wear. She saved enough money in a few years to buy a $300 mohair sofa, still in use.

This is a better reason for questioning the validity of the patent. Maybe the problem solved was that traditional foundation garments that women used to wear are likely even hotter in the Florida sun.

Alex said...

As a man, I would feel shame working at a women's undergarments company.

Bender said...

The problem with that is that the key to the invention is that Spanx are body slimming

Better elastic is the obvious answer. With tight enough elastic, I can take 3-4 inches off my gut.

rhhardin said...

It's the lucrative women's needs market.

Chip Ahoy said...

Yes, lubricative women, I'm for them, and better living through synthetics with handsome profits. It's a good story all around.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Necessity, the mother of invention.

I think that's about right.

Good going girl. You earned it.

And, I feel no jealousy. I'm happy for you.

Then again, I am secure in myself.

Human insecurity causes so many problems.

bagoh20 said...

"I can take 3-4 inches off my gut."

Where does it go?

Peter said...

A staff of 125 and only 16 are male.

And I absolutely guarantee you that all of the 109 women have something in common. God damn it.

Rex said...

U.S. Patent No. 7,024,892 to Sara T. Blakely has the following Abstract:

"A body-smoothing lower-body undergarment is constructed by circularly knitting a pair of seamless two-ply fabric tubes, longitudinally slitting an upper portion of each tube for a distance generally corresponding to a desired rise of the undergarment so as to form two fabric edges, and joining the two fabric edges of one of the fabric tubes to the two fabric edges of the other fabric tube so as to form a single larger fabric tube that serves as a panty portion of the undergarment, while lower portions of the fabric tubes serve as legs of the undergarment. The two-ply construction allows the bottoms of the legs to be formed without leg bands. The undergarment preferably has a 1.times.1 vertical rib knit construction, a turned welt waistband, and an abdominal control panel."

This invention is a lot more than long underwear, cutting the feet off of pantyhose, or an old-time foundation garment.

Elliott A said...

There is only ONE male at the bank branch I use, out of about 30 people.Other than as a curiosity, who cares?

Petunia said...

Well, good for her. She saw a niche in the market and went for it.

I'm just confused about the "origin" story. Why wear pantyhose under a pair of pants? Why not wear knee-high nylons? I haven't worn pantyhose in 20 years, but even way back then you could get seamless-toed, "sandalfoot" nylons to wear with sandals.

Just seems kinda odd to me.

Petunia said...

Well, good for her. She saw a niche in the market and went for it.

I'm just confused about the "origin" story. Why wear pantyhose under a pair of pants? Why not wear knee-high nylons? I haven't worn pantyhose in 20 years, but even way back then you could get seamless-toed, "sandalfoot" nylons to wear with sandals.

Just seems kinda odd to me.

Elliott A said...

The envy is palpable when someone has a mega-successful insight which was not beyond the abilities of the average person

Original Mike said...

Porgy Tirebiter!
He's a spy and a girl delighter,
Orgie Firefighter!
He's just a student like you.

Like me?

Just a student like you.

bagoh20 said...

Peter,

I'm betting the 16 males are aerodynamic as well. It may even be company policy.

kcom said...

"The envy is palpable when someone has a mega-successful insight which was not beyond the abilities of the average person"

It wasn't the insight that made her successful. It was the willingness and ability to cold call, to do all the research involved, to file the patent on her own, to sneak her product into a department store, and the hundred other things that she did that was the difference between an idea vs. a product available for people to purchase. Far fewer people could, or would have the gumption, to do that.

bagoh20 said...

As a new billionaire, I'm betting she has opted for surgery over her invention.

The richest person in the future world at some point will be the inventor of the weight loss pill that works. Is there any more desired product in the world today?

In a vote among the people of the western world, what do your think would win? A very effective weight loss pill or world peace?

bagoh20 said...
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bagoh20 said...

I agree with kcom - the idea is usually the only easy part, and it seems so here.

I see a lot of product ideas in my business: ones we develop, and ones presented to me by others.

You need a solution to a problem, enough people who want it, and then a ton of work to make it happen.

There is solving all the tiny problems that make the thing unworkable or impossible to produce. Then, getting it marketed, which is really the key, and like herding cats while being mugged.

There is no substitute for creative persistence. Well, maybe pure luck, but that's just what persistence looks like when it pays off.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Well, good for her. She saw a niche in the market and went for it.

I'm just confused about the "origin" story. Why wear pantyhose under a pair of pants? Why not wear knee-high nylons? I haven't worn pantyhose in 20 years, but even way back then you could get seamless-toed, "sandalfoot" nylons to wear with sandals.

Just seems kinda odd to me.


What's so confusing about what she did? She wasn't targeting her feet or calves so "knee-high nylons" wouldn't have solved her problem.

Perhaps you can explain how "knee-high nylons" provide a slimming effect to thighs, hips and butt.

Julie C said...

It's more than just the slimming effect. More women wear dress pants now. In the old days a girdle was fine (as uncomfortable as we find them now) for skirt and dress wearing. No visible panty lines. There is nothing worse, fashion-wise, than a woman wearing dress pants with panty lines showing through. Blech. If you are young and have a hard body, you can wear a thong and the panty line problem is solved. If you are older and need a bit more firmness, Spanx solved that problem.

Petunia said...

Sorry for that double post earlier.

Knee-high nylons DON'T "provide a slimming effect to thighs, hips, and butt", but neither do pantyhose. They're not really "sturdy" enough for that. They DO help with hiding VPL, and they can smooth things out a bit, but they don't slim. Unless they're making pantyhose a lot stronger than they did back when I wore them.