Sara Blakely was born on February 21, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida, the daughter of a lawyer and an artist. She graduated from Florida State University, with a degree in communications. While attending she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, and worked part time at Disneyworld.
Blakely joined local stationery company Danka, and began selling fax machines door-to-door.
In the heat and humidity of Florida, she tried unsuccessfully to find pantyhose that didn't have seamed toes, and that didn't roll up the leg when she cut them. Investing her life-savings of $5,000 she moved to Atlanta, researching and then agreeing production run deals with local manufacturers. Having read books on marketing, she designed her own logo on a friend's computer, and then to save the $3,000 legal fee needed to trademark the Spanx name, used a Barnes & Noble textbook and learned how to do it herself. In 2000 she launched the Spanx brand from her home, undertaking all initial calls and marketing herself across North America. She was later caught on CCTV by a department store repositioning her products so they were displayed more prominently. The Spanx company and brand are now valued at more than $1Bn dollars.
In 2006, she launched the Sara Blakely Foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training, and has funded scholarships for young women at Community and Individual Development Association City Campus in South Africa. She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006 and donated $1 million to Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy.
Blakely was a contestant on The Rebel Billionaire, and starred as one of the judges on ABC's reality television series, American Inventor. She also guest-starred on Free Radio in January 2008.