Today, shaping undergarment Spanx is ubiquitous. But 20 years ago, billionaire CEO Sara Blakely writes on LinkedIn, everyone thought her idea for footless pantyhose was “crazy.” Luckily, she knew not to tell very many people about it; only patent lawyers and people in the undergarments businesness.”Ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy,” she writes. Regardless, no one got it. Some made her an object of ridicule.
That was hardly a surprise, Blakely wrote, because the men in charge of the industry didn’t know what it was like to be a women wearing their products; they “weren’t thinking about how she FEELS in it.” And although she was only 25 years old at the time, with no training in design or business, she trusted her instinct.
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Eventually, she ended up on the cover of Forbes and named one of TIME magazine’s most 100 influential people. Spanx is now sold in airports, has categories for men, and is a household name. Oprah’s a fan. Blakely even makes occasional appearances on “Shark Tank.” Her message: “If you have an idea, talent, or skill: run with it.”