YourTango spoke with the billionaire (yes, billionaire) at the 2013 Women in the World conference.
There's a reason you're not supposed to discuss money on a first date.
But Sara Blakely may have taken that romance rule to the extreme, when she waited until 30 days before her wedding to spring a major bomb on her now-husband. Make that a billion bombs.
"I was actually really nervous about that," Blakely told the crowd at the fourth annual Women in the World summit of informing husband Jesse Itzler just how many zeros lived in her bank account. "I just said, 'Honey, there's something I have to tell you.' And he looked really nervous, and I was really nervous. And I just said, 'I think I make more money than you think I do' ... I just shared with him the success of Spanx."
His (on the money) reaction?
"He got a little teary-eyed, and all he said was, 'Honey, it couldn't have happened to a nicer person.'"
Blakely and Itzler, co-founder of Marquis Jet, a company that leases private jets, welcomed son Lazer in 2009, and today it's totally normal for women to proudly show Blakely their undergarments when she's spotted out and about. "Everywhere I go I get flashed!" she laughed. After all, this is the woman who started her wildly successful company 13 years ago as a simple solution to not liking the way her "butt looked in white pants" and feeling underwhelmed by her under options. "And then they came out with the thong, which put underwear where we wanted to get it out of," she joked.
But Blakely's road to wife, mother, and mogul didn't come without its speed bumps. Prior to finding her path, she flunked the LSATs—a move that pleased her father? As she explained to the audience, each week her dad would ask Blakely and her brother what they had failed at. The lesson? Failure didn't mean not succeeding. It meant "not trying."
"I feel that failure is life's way of nudging you and letting you know you're off course," she says and advises women to "trust your guy" as she did when she took her $5,000 savings and abracadabra-dooed it into a billion. After the summit, YourTango spoke exclusively with the shapewear maven about her experience balancing men and money:
"I went through so many Mr. Right Nows instead of Mr. Right. I had dated several guys before him and it was very difficult for me because I was so into starting the company that I really didn't have the time or energy to focus on a relationship," Blakely confided to us. "But I also found that the success and the money inevitably became an issue between us, even though we worked really hard for it not to be. My husband's a really successful entrepreneur in his own right, so I think he's just a super confident man. I'm glad I waited for him."
What's next for the shapewear titan, who firmly believes "cellulite does not discriminate," and her company? The invention of a comfortable stiletto, or so she hopes. "We put a man on the moon," she confidently told the crowd, "I know we can do this."
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