Atlanta, GA

The richest self-made woman in Atlanta

Ash Jurberg

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Recently Forbes released their annual Top 100 list of the richest self-made women. The list consists of the 100 most successful women entrepreneurs and executives in the United States.

To make the list in 2021, a net worth of $225 million was required. This was a significant increase from the $150 million net worth needed last year.

I have been writing a series on these inspiring women, and today it's time to look at the richest self-made woman in Atlanta.

The richest self-made woman in Atlanta

Sara Blakely is the founder and owner of Spanx. The success of the company has made her a billionaire- her current net worth is $1.3 billion. This places her at 39th on the Forbes list and also makes her the richest self-made woman in Atlanta.

Blakely was born in Florida in 1971 and earned a communication degree from Florida State University. After graduating, she worked briefly at Walt Disney World before moving into a sales role at an office supply company called Danka.

While working in the Florida heat, she found the design and appearance of the pantyhose she was forced to wear lacking and decided to experiment with her own designs.

Blakely moved to Atlanta in 1998 and spent the next two years researching her hosiery idea. Finally, in 2000, Blakely launched Spanx from her apartment in Atlanta.

The product was a success from that start being picked up by Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Saks before being featured by Oprah Winfrey as one of her favorite things. This allowed Blakely to quit her job at Danka and focus full-time on Spanx.

"Everything about my journey to get Spanx off the ground entailed me having to be a salesperson--from going to the hosiery mills to get a prototype made to calling Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. I had to position myself to get five minutes in the door with buyers." Sara Blakely

In 2012, Blakely made history when she became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. In October 2021, the Blackstone Group acquired a majority stake in Spanx, Inc, which valued Spanx at 1.2 billion US-Dollar.

Outside of Spanx, Blakely is part of the ownership group that acquired the NBA franchise the Atlanta Hawks in 2015.

Philanthropy

Blakely launched the Sara Blakley Foundation in 2006, which aims to help women through education and entrepreneurial training and awards scholarships around the world.

She was also the first female billionaire to join the Giving Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. This pledge is made by the world's wealthiest to donate most of their wealth. Last year, Blakely pledged to give $5,000,000 to support female-run small businesses.

"My dad encouraged us to fail growing up. He would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome--failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail." Sara Blakely

Blakely is an inspiring story not only for aspiring entrepreneurs in Atlanta but across the world.

Readers, have any of you met Sara Blakely or worked for Spanx? What was the experience like?

Please leave your comments in the section below.

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