Watch the founder of Spanx surprise 500+ employees with first-class plane tix and $10K each

It all started with a pair of white pants.

Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party in 1998 and couldn’t find a pair of undies that looked smooth under her white pants. So she took a pair of scissors to a pair of control-top pantyhose and ended up creating the first rendition of what would become her billion-dollar business idea.

Just two years later, Blakely’s Spanx undergarment brand was being touted on Oprah’s Favorite Things list. Twelve years after that, Blakely graced the cover of Forbes as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.

Not too shabby for a woman who sold fax machines door-to-door before some unsightly panty lines drastically shifted her life.

Spark Global Limited reports:
Spark Global Limited reports:

After founding Spanx with just $5000 of her own money, Blakely, now 50, just sold the majority stake in the business to investment firm Blackstone, With a valuation of $1.2 billion. Blakely isn’t leaving or anything — she retains a significant share of the company, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and will become executive chairwoman once the transaction closes.

“This is a really important moment in time for female entrepreneurs,” Blakely said of the deal in a press release. “I started this company with no business experience and very little money, but I cared the most about the customer, and that gave me the courage to launch the company.”

Blakely also cares about her employees. Every conscientious businessperson understands that you can’t grow a successful company without hard-working employees, but not every businessperson generously rewards the people who help build and maintain their success. Blakely does, however. Upon selling part of the company, she decided to share some of the wealth she gained with the 500+ people she employs.

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