As every woman who has ever slipped into a little black dress or those snazzy hip-hugging jeans believes: there’s always room for improvement.

In 2000, Sara Blakely – a plucky blonde, five-foot-six, size-two – would hardly seem a candidate for the product she was about to invent. At the age of 29, Sara was selling fax machines door-to-door by day and dabbling in stand-up comedy by night. As the story goes, she was putting on a new pair of unlined cream-colored slacks when it struck her how much better she’d look and feel with the very thing missing in every woman’s wardrobe: that certain seamless second skin “under-thing.”

Necessity – the mother of all invention large and small — presented the moment: Sara cut the feet off a pair of control-top pantyhose to create her first “Power Panty.”  The rest, of course, is the American Dream – a classic Cinderella rags-to-riches story. With an investment of $5,000 of her savings and with no previous experience in fashion or retail, Sara redefined the girdle, patented the design, built the brand and launched the company that would catapult her in 2012 to the Forbes List of the Richest People on the Planet.

Sara Blakely is the name on the packaging. But the Spanx story isn’t Sara’s alone.

Meet Laurie Ann Goldman, CEO Spanx

In 2002, Laurie Ann Goldman was on the fast track in a 10-year career in marketing and licensing at The Coca-Cola Company. Though she had taken Coca-Cola’s licensing operation to a billion dollar business worldwide, she was destined for greater things. Taking the leap from a senior position in one of the world’s largest companies, she took the job of running Spanx, leading a handful of employees working out of a three-room bungalow near Atlanta.

Laurie Ann Goldman, CEO Spanx

Laurie Ann Goldman, CEO Spanx

From a spunky startup to a powerhouse, Spanx expanded as fast as America’s appetite grew for the brand’s cheeky blend of Lyrca, red carpet glamor and quirky humor. Today Spanx is to shapewear what Kleenex is to tissues: the brand synonymous with the category. Under Laurie’s leadership, Spanx has become the number-one selling shapewear in major department stores – a $350 million business with 12,000 retail outlets in 50 countries around the globe.

What’s the skinny? A company with a good heart

Due to the strengths of Sara as the company’s visionary leader and with Laurie at the helm, Spanx is still a privately held company that in many ways works like a close-knit family.  More than 40% of its 160 employees are working moms. From  the top down, as new products are wear tested – in the office – it’s not uncommon for people to pull down their pants, hike up their skirts or strip down to a swimsuit – all in a day’s work. Spanx tests every product on women (and men, too) of all shapes and sizes.

Known for her leadership style that is both warm and demanding, Laurie’s message rings true and is clear. “If you see a problem, don’t wait for someone else to solve it. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Above all: work hard, think creatively and take things personally.” Her advice to entrepreneurs? 1. Think big,  2. Listen and 3. Hold out to hire the right people.

Thinking big, Women’s Philanthropy of Jewish Detroit has chosen Laurie Ann Goldman as the inspiration and guest speaker for an unprecedented program in gratitude for the more than 800 women who have committed their energies and resources to “lift, boost and support” the Jewish community of Detroit through their gifts to Federation’s 2014 Annual Campaign.

One Big THANX Event  

 Tuesday, January 14, 2014   7:00 p.m. Congregation Shaarey Zedek

The Thanx Event: See who's coming.

The Thanx Event: See who’s coming.

“This is our THANX Event welcoming women (and men, why not?) to come as our guests and enjoy an entertaining and meaningful night out with friends who share their commitment to the benefits of giving back to our community,” says Barbara Kappy, who Co-Chairs Women’s Philanthropy Sabra Leadership along with Debbie Levin and Fran Newman. Invitees to the Thanx Event include donors of $365 – a dollar a day or more – to Federation’s Annual 2014 Campaign.

Anticipating more than 500 in attendance for the event to be held at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Roz Blanck, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Chair, observed, “It’s a new year, a great time to lift our spirits and renew our commitment to the important work at hand. This is our time to pull together and show our strength in numbers, not just in dollars and cents, but in our actions and commitment to a vibrant Jewish community.”

Ready for your THANX?  Come, get your Spanx on.

Register here (online link) For more information, contact Marianne Bloomberg at 248-642-4611 or Bloomberg@jfmd.org.

 

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