Since founding her company, Sara Blakely has donated more than $10 million dollars, employs 100+ people, has been on Oprah, was featured in a reality show with Sir Richard Branson, and met former President Nelson Mandela!
How did Sara Blakely reach such success? The story goes like this…
While selling fax machines door-to-door, Sara had a brilliant idea: footless pantyhose! The material would accentuate her “assets” while smoothing out any “unsightlies.”
A true do-it-yourself inventor, Sara had her mother (an artist) do the preliminary product sketches in which Sara was the model. She researched trademarks and patents at the university library at night and wound up writing the patent herself. She trademarked Spanx® online.
With a patent and trademark under her belt, Sara then begged hosiery manufacturers to create her invention. Finally, one manufacturer relented - because his daughters at home told him to!
After a year of research and development, Sara had a real prototype, but no customers.
Patent lawyers said her idea was crazy. Multi-million dollar manufacturers laughed her out of their offices. Most people she talked to had no idea what product she was trying to develop.
So how could Sara, with no experience and with no help, break into the big leagues? It was Sara’s persistence!
Sara Blakely started contacting Major Retailers about her Spankx® invention herself. Her big break came from a Neiman-Marcus buyer who was willing to listen to her! She flew to Dallas and asked the buyer to follow her into the lady’s room (Yes…the buyer was a woman). She made the sale!
After its success in Neiman-Marcus stores across the nation, Spanx® was picked up by Saks, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and then nearly every other major retailer. Since then, Spanx® has been featured on Oprah and in major publications and outlets across the world!
So what is the morale of this story? Ordinary people can produce extraordinary results with their simple product ideas if they follow their heart and take action. Therefore, you have a product concept that you think people will love, then do whatever it takes to make it happen! You could be the next million dollar invention success story!
Karen Waksman (Product for Profit,) is a Manufacturer’s Rep turned Author, Speaker and Consultant. She has written a step-by-step guide called ‘How To Sell Your Product, Invention or Craft to Major Retailers…No Sales Experience or Existing Buyer Relationships Required!’