Fail Big: Lesson from Sara Blakely


“Failure is life’s way of nudging you and letting you know you’re off course”

Sara Blakely is an entrepreneur and founder of Spanx which offers a line of undergarments, specifically shapewear, that make clothes look and feel better on women. Although she has no formal training in starting and running a business, Sara is now the sole owner of a company valued at $1 Billion, a far cry from her original investment of $5,000.

Similar to her father, her plan was to become a lawyer, but when that did not pan out; she did not give up on the belief that someday she would be successful. From an early age, her father encouraged her to tell him stories about her failures. Furthermore, she would be disappointed if she didn’t have a story to share! From this, it is clear that she always thought of failure as a story to learn something from, not something to be ashamed of.

As true with many new business ventures, she is very familiar with the word “no”. This failure or rejection is disheartening if looked at negatively. Instead, Sara saw this response as encouragement to work past her comfort zone and reach new levels. Failure, especially if big forces one to step back and re-evaluate the small decisions that led to the specified outcome. It provides an opportunity to learn and grow past prior choices.

Sara Blakely is not afraid to fail; we shouldn’t be either.

Mariam Azhar

University of Waterloo

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