Spanx Surprises Employees With $10,000 And Free First-Class Plane Tickets

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Spanx founder Sara Blakely is sharing the love — and wealth — with her employees. 

And in doing so, the self-made mogul (and youngest female billionaire in America) is sending an important message to other bosses. 

Companies should give back to their employees. 

The founder of the wildly popular shapewear line recently announced an acquisition deal with Blackstone, a private equity firm. 

Immediately after the statement, she made another announcement on her IG — she was giving $10,000 and two first-class plane tickets to every single member of the Spanx staff. 

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A post shared by Sara Blakely (@sarablakely)

“This is a very big moment for each and every one of you,” she said in the video. 

Employees shared in the video where they are planning to fly (first-class!) — their destinations include South Africa, Bora Bora, and Sweden.


Although Spanx has the financial resources to gift employees generously, some companies do not have that luxury. 

But money shouldn’t stop companies from taking care of their employees. 

“Even if you don’t have Spanx’s financial resources, there are still plenty of ways to similarly take care of your employees,” says Amy Zimmerman, chief people officer at Relay Payments, an Atlanta-based logistics fintech, about the Spanx news. 

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“You just have to find ways to be generous when you can, and show your gratitude often.”

“Amid the Great Resignation, Zimmerman says, “Relay has had fewer than five people leave voluntarily. A vital part of the company’s retention strategy has been giving equity to each of its roughly 100 employees. 


“But,” she adds, “Businesses also can get good results with methods like verbal messages, recognition programs, and community-building activities — many of which don’t cost a thing.”

Spanx News: Expansion

Blakely says Spanx will expand into denim and more after the Blackstone deal, pushing into other categories of apparel in hopes of making all clothing more comfortable for women.

Founded in the late 1990s, Spanx is poised to keep “Expanding its direct-to-consumer arm, lessening its reliance on discount retailers and other wholesale partners, such as department stores,” says CNBC. 

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“Direct-to-consumer sales are typically more profitable. This also means Spanx has formed closer relationships with its customers.”

According to Blackstone, those were two key reasons why the investment firm decided to take a majority stake in Spanx. 

That investment, announced Wednesday, values Spanx at $1.2 billion. 

“There aren’t very many brands that have been able to successfully make that transition,” Ann Chung, Blackstone’s global head of its consumer division, said in a recent interview about the Spanx news on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“What we really saw was that the consumer was following the company and the brand…whether they were putting shapewear out, or leggings out, or jeans out, and they were following all the products and being very loyal,” Chung said.

The Spanx deal is Blackstone’s latest move to back women-run businesses, following investments in Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media conglomerate.

The Spanx Journey

“Two decades ago, I was just a girl with a crappy day job and a crazy idea. I didn’t have a ton of money, experience or knowledge of the industry. But I decided to go for it,” Blakely wrote on an IG post. 

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Blakely started Spanx in 1998 with $5,000 in savings from selling fax machines door-to-door. 

With zero background in design, business or manufacturing, Blakely had a rough start, saying she “Had doors slammed in her face and had her business cards ripped up.”

It was also a struggle to get funding — but that didn’t stop Blakely. 

She built Spanx into a billion-dollar brand from the ground up.

Neiman Marcus Buys In

Blakely needed a retailer to carry Spanx. It proved to be a hard sell, but she ultimately sold it — in a ladies bathroom. 

She kept cold calling a buyer for Neiman Marcus, and when she finally got a meeting, Blakely asked the buyer to join her in the ladies room. 

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“In the middle of my meeting with [the Neiman Marcus rep], I could tell I was losing her. And I just knew it was my one shot. So I said, ‘Will you come with me to the bathroom?’ And she just paused. 

“She goes, ‘Excuse me?’ I go, ‘I know, I know, it’s a little weird. Will you just please come with me to the bathroom? I want to show you my own product before and after,’” Blakely told Guy Raz during an episode of NPR’s “How I Built This” in 2016.

And the rest is history — or herstory. 


Did you hear the latest Spanx news? Does knowing the founder gives back to her staff make you want to buy a pair? Let us know below! 

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