The billion-dollar shapewear leader is known for encouraging employees to be inventive by learning from their mistakes.
Sara Blakely recalls how her father would once a week, ask what she had failed at, over dinner. He would carefully listen to her little blunders, then guide her through how she could’ve made better decisions and encouraging her to keep putting her best foot forward. Blakely has instilled this philosophy into her billion-dollar shapewear company.
Unlike most entrepreneurs or CEOs that are quick to fire employees for making mistakes, Blakely encourages all of her staff to take bold risks. She believes that the key to success thrives in environments where there is no fear of displeasing their boss. Spanx is known for creating a laidback workplace, often making funny nicknames for different areas around their headquarters.
If you are like us, you’re thinking that it sounds too good to be true, right? As the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. So, the best way to get a peek into the actual inner workings at Spanx is by asking the employees their opinion. Here are some sincere comments from some of Blakely’s longtime employees at Spanx.
One of the sales associates started working there after taking a 12-year sabbatical from the work force to care for her family. She admits she was quite apprehensive about returning to the stiff, corporate environment after so many years, but everyone made her feel at ease. She stated that is more like a big family than a huge company.
One of the designers finds working for Spanx to be one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences in her life. She admits in previous designing jobs, she felt designs were more one-dimensional and focused on the employer and not the consumer. But at Spanx, it is about creating innovative clothing and undergarments that actually changes the customer’s life.
Another employee, who works as the senior photo editor, loves how they are encouraged to try out new things and if it fails, nobody is there to make you feel guilty about wasting money or time. He says that the only way to improve is by learning from your failures, and he has made loads of mistakes!
The senior technical designer confesses that she spends too much time in the fitting rooms, as they don’t test out their products on mannequins but on real people – themselves and live models. Her goal is to show that Spanx magic happens on women of shapes and sizes and not just on a mannequin.
An additional employee says the freedom speech atmosphere within Spanx, helped her speak up to express her desire to do more. Now she is working overseas at one of the international offices located in London. Her new job position involved many interesting challenges such as finding a suitable space, hiring a team, etc.
Spanx has a yearly “Be Bold” program for all of their employees, which provides training in a new skill. These new skills are often combined into games or friendly competitions that involve debate or negotiation tournaments. They even had a comedy boot camp that got everyone onstage to show their humorous side.
We have to admit that it sounds like a fun and productive workplace, which definitely contributes to their outstanding success year-after-year.