Hearing so many amazing women’s success stories is definitely a perk of my role at NAWBO. No two are alike, and yet they are all equally exciting.
In fact, maybe you’ve heard of this one: Sara Blakely was selling fax machines door-to-door in Florida’s hot, humid weather. An idea was born after she tried unsuccessfully to find pantyhose that didn’t have seamed toes and didn’t roll up the leg when she cut them. She invested her savings of just $5,000 and moved to Atlanta, where she researched and tried to reach production deals with local manufacturers. In 2000, she launched the Spanx brand from her home. The company and brand are now valued at more than $1 billion—making Sara the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. In 2012, she was named in Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world assembled by Time magazine.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting this dynamic woman when Spanx opened a standalone retail store in Washington, D.C.’s Tysons Corner—the first of several retail outlets the Atlanta-based company plans to open in the U.S. Sara was on hand for this important event that included a ribbon-cutting ceremony. But more importantly for the NAWBO community, she was there to present the NAWBO Institute for Entrepreneurial Development, which was formed in 2003 to expand educational opportunities for emerging and established women entrepreneurs, with a check for $10,000 from the Sara Blakely Foundation that shares in our mission of empowering women.
Meanwhile, women everywhere should feel empowered by this month’s groundbreaking election results. No matter our opinions on the outcome of the presidential race, we can all agree that women had record gains, giving us even wider access to power and influence. The113th Congress will have at least 20 female senators, the most ever in U.S. history. These include many women who are the first female Senators from their states as well as the first Asian-American woman in the Senate. The House of Representatives will also hold a record number of women this term, with at least 81 Congresswomen elected so far. The current record high for the House is 73 women. Some of the new Congresswomen include women who have military combat experience and two women under the age of 40. One will also be the first Hindu woman in Congress.
Congratulations to the NAWBO Institute on its donation from the Sara Blakely Foundation—I know we’ll be able to impact a lot of women entrepreneurs’ success through it—and to all the winning women in this year’s election—I am excited to work with you as NAWBO continues to advocate on behalf of women business owners.
—Diane Tomb, NAWBO National President & CEO