A $3 Face Mask Made This Pharmacist a Billionaire, Here’s How
Sarah Blakely, founder of shapewear company Spanx, has joined the elite ranks of female billionaires by selling affordable facial masks during the pandemic.
The founder of Spanx revolutionized shapewear when she created footless pantyhose in 2000. Since then, her company has expanded into bras, underwear, activewear, maternity wear, and more. But it was Blakely’s pivot to facial masks in 2020 that helped boost her net worth to over $1 billion.
Creating An Accessible Skincare Solution
When COVID-19 hit the United States, Blakely wanted to make a difference. She utilized Spanx’s supply chain and connections with manufacturers to design a comfortable, high-quality facial covering that sold for just $3 each.
As Forbes reported, Blakely prioritized accessibility with the low price point. She also donated thousands of masks to healthcare workers on the frontlines.
“I pivoted my whole business to make it about solving problems versus selling shapewear. I knew I had the supply chain and relationships with factories. It makes me feel good that we pivoted so quickly to help.” – Sarah Blakely
From Pharmacist to Billionaire Entrepreneur
Blakely was originally on track to become a lawyer. She even took the LSAT. But her heart wasn’t in it. Instead, she took a different path, graduating with a communications degree and working as a stand-up comedian at night.
After becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep, Blakely still felt unfulfilled. She spent her savings inventing what would become Spanx shapewear in 2000. From her modest start, Blakely grew Spanx into a household name and multi-billion dollar private company.
Leaning Into Innovation During Difficult Times
Blakely has proven over and over that creativity thrives even in challenging circumstances. She first invented Spanx because she couldn’t find shapewear she liked. And she designed affordable masks at the start of the pandemic when PPE was desperately needed.
Rather than being discouraged by roadblocks, Blakely stays positive. On Instagram, she shared:
“I actually love problems because they inspire me to think outside the box.”
That attitude has taken her far over the past two decades. And it will likely lead to more innovative solutions in the future.
Blakely Joins Forbes Billionaire List
Thanks to the success of Spanx and its pivot to masks, Blakely’s net worth has surpassed $1 billion. Forbes officially added her to their World’s Billionaires list in 2022.
She joins a small group of around 50 self-made female billionaires globally. Blakely is one of only a handful of women to make the cut without the help of a inheritance, divorce settlement or other wealth transfer.
Blakely’s story proves that a great idea, determination and willingness to adapt can indeed translate to tremendous success in business. Spanx reshaped the shapewear industry and now Blakely has set her sights on revolutionizing the skincare market as well.