Sara Blakely founded Spanx Inc. in 2000 with $5,000 of her personal savings earned from selling fax machines door-to-door. She just struck a deal with Blackstone Inc. that values the company at $1.2 billion.
Blakely, 50, will retain a significant interest in the Atlanta-based maker of shapewear and pantyhose, according to a statement from the two firms. She will continue to oversee daily operations alongside Spanx’s existing senior management team and will become executive chairwoman once the deal closes.
“This is a really important moment in time for female entrepreneurs,” Blakely said in the statement. “I started this company with no business experience and very little money, but I cared the most about the customer, and that gave me the courage to launch the company.”
Blakely often recounts her bold marketing tactics during the company’s early days, including modeling her own undergarments in pitch meetings to convince retailers to carry the products. Spanx was an early pioneer of shapewear, a category that’s become increasingly competitive with makers including HoneyLove Inc. and Kim Kardashian West’s Skims.
Blackstone’s investment follows other acquisitions in companies founded by women, including Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble Inc. and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media.
Blackstone made the investment through its Blackstone Growth and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities businesses.