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Sara Blakely

Lesson time 14:33 min

Sara teaches you her time-tested prototyping tactics, including how to gather consumer feedback and capitalize on your weaknesses. She also discusses the development of some of her inventions.

Sara Blakely
Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship
Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I'm going to tell you something. I pretty much can tell you that every person in their life has had a million dollar idea. No doubt, no doubt. It's just, you going to take action? That's the big difference. Do you want to do something about it? The ideas are there. It's just then you got to take your next step. [MUSIC PLAYING] So the goal of the first prototype is to bring your idea into the world. You want to see that it can be made, you want to see that it can be done, and then you want to educate yourself on the strengths and the weaknesses of your prototype. And you do that by comparing it to what else is available in the marketplace and why it's better. Then add a design element, but don't compromise the fit. WOMAN: Mhm. [MUSIC PLAYING] - The first prototype of Spanx was actually a product that already existed, and I just took a new angle on it. I mean, I literally took a product that existed and made a modification to it. I cut the feet out of pantyhose. It's important to remember that when you're creating your first prototype, it can often be a combination of aspects of things you really like. For example, Steve Jobs, he didn't invent the camera. He didn't invent the phone. He didn't invent email. He looked at it and said, I'm going to put all this together in one device. So when I was prototyping, I literally went and found elements of other people's products that I liked. I like this waistband, and here's the reason why. I like this fabric, and here's the reason why. I like this, and then I thought, OK, how do I make the leg band on the bottom? I didn't know how to do that. I actually went to fabric stores and arts and crafts stores and got elastic, tried to staple it at the bottom. I tried to paperclip it to the bottom. I mean, I was doing such crude, homemade examples, but that's where it all starts. [MUSIC PLAYING] When you're testing your first couple of prototypes or you're beginning business, I say, don't underestimate your own, would I buy this? Is this my first choice? When I started Spanx, I had the product wear-tested on myself, two friends, and my mom. When I give people prototypes, I always want them to tell me what's wrong with it. I'm so focused on, what don't you like about it, and how can it be improved? For example, I said to them, I want you to go home. I don't want you to just put it on your body. I want you to wear it for a few days, not just instantly. Tell me how it's performing over the course of several days. Does it start to get hot? Do you want to get out of it? What's happening? Give me that feedback. I mean, negative feedback's super important, and you just need to know what to do with it. It's either a gift and you make a change in something you didn't think about, or it's something that you don't agree with and you move on and continue on your path. You're not going to please everybody, and a lot of people are going to not understand what you're d...

About the Instructor

With little more than an idea and a drive to find her way, Sara Blakely went from selling fax machines door-to-door to becoming the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire in 2012. Now the inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of Spanx teaches you to open doors and close deals. Learn Sara’s customer-first approach and her tactics for prototyping, branding and building awareness, and bootstrapping your way to success.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

So helpful and inspirational. What a heart this woman has and crazy drive. Reminds me as an entreprenuer why I started and that anything is possible.

I have learned tuns! I am inspired by Sara and I know it all came to me for a reason. It is all to be discovered! G

Sara Blakely's Masterclass is the best $90 I have ever spent on anything! I enjoyed every minute and learned so much I could cry with happiness! Thank you Sara for sharing your experiences so we can learn and strive to become the best version of ourselves possible.

Wow, your story and advice is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve received so much from this class in reference to confirmation. Thank you for your transparency.


A fellow student

Sara made me cry: I just LOVE all her lessons, I can see her life and lessons unfolding with my own experiences. So glad I am here.

Jennifer B.

This is such a great lesson, even though I used this in parallel with service vs product. Great gems here! Thanks Sara!

Natalie S.

FYI Masterclass team - these end takeaway notes are not consistent with this lesson, there's an error on the end card copy.


Very inspiring! I already own my brand, but I am always trying to learn and be inspired. We're never done learning! I am already getting some great ideas while watching this.

John G.

A fantastic guide. I hope to use the lessons and advice in my new endeavours.

Winston L.

Hi Sara, thank you for the great advice! I love how passionate you are in these lessons. Why does the retail price have to be about 5 times the manufacturing cost?

A fellow student

You give so much golden advice, Sara. I especially love the part about obsessing about the customer vs "innovate for the sake of innovation", turning weaknesses into strengths, and to constantly iterate, as otherwise the product can become irrelevant. Super helpful, thank you so much.


Very inspired by Sara - to be able to build a widely successful brand without advertising and pre social media era out of purpose is remarkable.


Nice coverage about prototyping. Definitely helpful for me when I am writing up the prototype software and algorithms for my new venture. Thanks Sara for your kind advice.

A fellow student

Spot on. Best advice I ever heard about taking your millionaire idea to market . From asking the universe to obtaining the idea. Through visualization to failing . Makes me want to buy a pair but I’m a man. Lol. Best best advice ever given and no ego in the teachings Patrick Canada