Womenswear brand Spanx has drawn the attention of celebrity investors Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, who both joined as backers of the company as it completes the sale of a majority stake to investment firm Blackstone.
The deal, which values Spanx at $1.2 billion, closed Thursday morning. The company announced the completion of the transaction—along with a handful of new investors—in a statement. Other new backers of Spanx include Bumble cofounder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, along with female-founded investment funds G9 Ventures and Able Partners. The company will have an all-female board of directors, Blackstone and Spanx said.
Spanx founder Sara Blakely, who became a billionaire once again because of the deal, praised the participation of Winfrey and Witherspoon, who she described as “longtime supporters of Spanx.” “Oprah was a big reason for Spanx’s early success when she named it one of her iconic ‘Favorite Things’ in 2000,” Blakely said in a statement. Just how much Oprah and Witherspoon invested was not disclosed.
This is not the first time Winfrey, Witherspoon and Wolfe Herd have crossed paths with Blackstone. Winfrey previously invested in dairy alternative company Oatly alongside the investment firm. Blackstone also acquired a majority stake in Bumble’s parent company in 2019 and bought Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production studio earlier this year.
Blakeley, 50, started Spanx in 2000 with $5,000 earned primarily from her job as a door-to-door fax machine salesperson in Florida. By 2012, her company was reporting 20% profit margins on almost $250 million in annual sales. That year, Blakely became the youngest self-made woman to join Forbes’ World Billionaires List. (She has since been surpassed as the youngest by the likes of Kylie Jenner and Wolfe Herd.)
Spanx once dominated the shapewear category but in recent years has faced competition from rivals like Shapermint and Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand Skims, which is worth about $1.6 billion. Forbes estimated the value of Spanx to have fallen to $540 million by June of this year, with Blakely’s own net worth down to $750 million.
The majority sale of Spanx has since boosted Blakely’s fortune over the billion dollar mark. According to Blackstone, she will retain “a significant equity stake” in the company.