00:09 Sara Blakely: Along the way, there were certain things that I learned for sure, which was, you gotta differentiate yourself, and you gotta do it clean and concisely. People gotta understand why you're different really quickly. Consumers want you to tell them... They want it to be easy. "I'm a consumer. I just want you to tell me why you're the best." Make it easy. So, whatever your invention, product, business is, you've gotta do that for them. And when I say differentiate yourself, identify a problem for the customer, and then a solution and spell it out very quickly.
00:40 Blakely: For me, the problem is, all the products give you panty lines and issues and if you have cellulite, you can see it. The solution, here is my invention. You put it on, and it goes away. Then I always say, you've got to talk about what's in it for them. You can't just say problem, solution. Tell the customer, "And so what happens is if you wear this Spanx product, you can wear things that have been hanging in your closet for years. So, the whites and the creams and these colors that maybe you've even avoided buying, you throw them on. So, by investing in this $20 item, you're basically getting a new wardrobe within your own wardrobe." And then I always say, "Then take it one step further and tell them very quickly why you're the best over everyone else."
01:19 Blakely: And Spanx is the best because we don't have rubber cords in our waistbands, our waistbands are sized, they're comfortable. There's no leg band on the thigh, all the other products have leg bands on the thigh that give you that bulge. So, I just quickly like, for the consumer, made it very easy. Like "Okay, I don't need to go shop the competition. I get why I need this. She's told my my problem. She's giving me my solution." So, I really emphasize that.
01:43 Blakely: I emphasize visualization, "Where do you wanna be?" When I cut the feet out of my pantyhose, I had done a lot of preparation mentally before that moment. So, it wasn't like I just cut the feet out of my pantyhose and went, "Whoa, wow, check this out!" I had been writing in my journal and also visualizing and thinking of a different life for myself for years. And I was very specific. I asked the universe for an idea that I could sell to millions of people. I said, "I know I like to sell. I wanna come up with an idea that lots of people want, and that will make them happy, and will change their lives, and give them a good feeling, and give me a good feeling to sell it to them."
02:20 Blakely: I knew I could sell 'cause I've been selling fax machines for seven years. So, that visualization is so important, and that's why so many women have cut the feet out of their pantyhose, but the reason I took it and ran with it is 'cause I was ready. I saw it as my opportunity. The day I cut them off, I was like, "Okay, thanks for the idea. I was off and running." And I say "Take a mental snapshot of where you want to be in your life, like a Polaroid picture." You don't even have to tell anybody about it. Mine, I was sitting on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
02:49 Blakely: I took my Polaroid picture when I was 20 years old, and I'm on stage with her. I had no idea what we were talking about. I literally was like, I saw myself, kind of vaguely saw what I was wearing. She is there, I'm in a chair, she is in a chair, and I called the next 15 to 20 years of my life "filling in the blanks" because I was always like, "What am I talking to Oprah about? I can't wait to figure it out." So, when I got the call from The Oprah Winfrey Show, I was beyond thrilled and excited, but I wasn't that surprised, because it had been my mental snapshot for almost 15, 20 years.
03:21 Blakely: Then another thing is that I didn't tell anybody my idea. So, I always say, tell the people that can move it forward. I called the hosiery mill, and I called the attorneys. But the one thing I didn't do is I didn't tell friends and family my idea. And I have the most wonderful friends and family, nobody told me to do this or not do this, this was an intuitive gut feeling. And I think this one single thing is probably the reason Spanx exists, because ideas are the most vulnerable in the moment that you have them. And it's also the moment that we wanna turn to our coworker, our husband, our best friend, and go, "What do you think of this idea?" And out of love and concern, people will tell you a bunch of things that maybe stop the idea dead in its tracks right there.
04:04 Blakely: So, when I cut the feet out of my pantyhose, I didn't tell anybody for one year. My friends and my family can tell you, they would always laugh. They were like, "Sara is working on some crazy invention. She won't tell anybody what it is." And literally, I wanted to wait a year, because when you tell people your idea early on, the ego has to get involved. And then you spend time defending it and explaining it, rather than pursuing it. And this was so near and dear and important to my heart because I wanted a different life for myself. I've been asking for "Give me this idea", and I won't squander it.
04:34 Blakely: So, when the idea came to me, I was like, "I'm going for it, and I'll tell everybody later." And once I had invested enough of my energy into it that I thought it wasn't as vulnerable if I got feedback that made me nervous or scared, that it would still move forward. And that's exactly what happened.
04:49 Blakely: A year into it, I told my friends and family, I'm like, "I'm ready to tell you what I've been working on". And they gathered around, and I said, "It's footless pantyhose." I mean, literally, they're like, "What?" I said, "Yes, it's time to change the world". My mom is like, "I don't understand it." Everybody out of love and concern, I heard, "If it's that great an idea, Sara, why doesn't it exist?" And then I heard, "But, honey, even if it is a good idea, you're gonna spend your $5,000 and then the big guys will come and just knock you out of the water six months later, and then where are you gonna be?" And if I had heard that a year prior, I'd still be selling fax machines. So, I would say, holding that to myself and not telling your idea just for validation purposes was a big part of my journey.