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Julie Latsko’s fitting story of a girl-powered business

Julie Latsko

Julie Latsko

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:54AM

Did you know that your favorite tummy tucker and butt lifter also produced the youngest self-made female billionaire in business? Ladies, next time you pull on your Spanx, know that you are molding more than your midsection and thighs. You’re also “shaping” the female entrepreneurial spirit, while helping to make business history.

Sara Blakely created Spanx in 2000, when she was in her late 20s, with nothing more than an idea, a pair of old panty hose, some scissors, and $5,000 of her own money. From that humble beginning, Blakely, now 41, developed a company that now generates $250 million in sales every year. Female consumers embraced the spandex armor (better known in my household as an appetite suppressant), and millions of fans, including early adopter and vocal supporter Oprah Winfrey, have driven it to great heights. Only a decade after Spanx first hit the market, the figure-slimming shapewear has become a beloved staple in many American women’s wardrobes.

It is now common to see movie stars and celebrities sing Spanx’s praises. Singer Adele confessed to wearing “three or four pairs of Spanx” when she won six Grammys this year, and even the curvaceous Kim Kardashian swears by them. No, I don’t think Spanx are enlarging the “junk in her trunk.” Instead, they help it defy gravity.

But, to me, a bigger achievement than the celebrity endorsements is Blakely’s personal story. The beautiful mother of a toddler currently owns 100 percent of the Atlanta-based company, and she has never rested on her nicely smoothed laurels. Instead, she keeps innovating and expanding the Spanx product line, which now includes body shapers, bras, panties, legwear, Spanx Active wear and a swimwear line.

Most recently, the company announced it would be going after the flabby gentlemen in our lives, marketing ab-creating shapewear for men, and opening stand-alone Spanx stores (all stocked with shapewear experts) this fall in Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. Now men will finally understand what all the hype is about!

Julie Latsko has donated her fee for writing this column to the Chicago Children’s Museum.

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