Spanx founder Sara Blakely lends her wedding dress to strangers

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Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO of Spanx, recently made an offer on Instagram: Brides who have postponed their wedding due to COVID-19 can borrow her wedding dress. And it’s not even the first time she’s loaned the dress to a stranger.

“I ask all brides to be … will you borrow my wedding dress? I’ve already loaned it twice … once to a good friend and once to a girl I’m coming to to meet, “Blakely said on her Instagram account. post March 19.

Blakely had two dresses for her October 2008 wedding to entrepreneur Jesse Itzler – one was her grandmother’s restored 1918 wedding dress and the other was a strapless lace tea number.

Blakely tells CNBC Make It that she will be loaning out her second dress.

The first time she lent her dress was to her childhood friend in 2010.

“She was looking for dresses and couldn’t find anything she liked,” Blakely told CNBC Make It. “She was struggling with the cost of the dresses and the budget and I just said, ‘Okay wear mine,’ and she said, ‘Great, I will!

“It fit her perfectly. She had nothing to do and she was just gorgeous.”

The second time in 2016 was a little different. Blakely gifted her dress to a woman she had just met while hiking in Sun Valley, Idaho.

“I spoke to one of the girls,” Blakely recalls, “and she said,“ I’m newly engaged. “And I hadn’t even planned to say it, but it just came out,” Oh really? Well, I’m glad to lend you my wedding dress. “And she just looked at me like, ‘Wait what?'”

The woman politely declined at the time, but exchanged contact details with Blakely. About a year later, Blakely says she got a message from the woman asking if the offer was still on the table.

“She emailed me and said, ‘It’s so amazing and a little embarrassing, but can I borrow your dress? My dress came back completely damaged. It doesn’t fit at all. My wedding is in two days. ‘”Blakely remembers. “I made her spend the night in my wedding dress and she was wearing it and was absolutely gorgeous.”

Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blakely wants to share her dress again.

“When COVID-19 happened, I changed my thinking, ‘How can I use my social platform right now to be of service? “I remembered doing that with the wedding dress, and I was like, ‘This is a really heartwarming item that should make others feel good right now.'” she declared.

“And I also wanted to hopefully start a trend and spark an idea in other women that they might not have thought of lending their wedding dresses and now they will.”

So Blakely found a picture of her dress and “threw it on [Instagram]”with the offer,” she said.

Thirty-one women responded to Blakely’s message, she said, asking to borrow her dress. 72 others said they would also lend their wedding dresses.

“We contacted these 31 women and told them that when the time comes, we will send the dress,” she said.

“One of the women I’ll end up loaning my dress to is another female entrepreneur. I’m delighted to loan it to another female entrepreneur. Another of the women who contacted is a nurse, and that was also really exciting, ”Blakely told CNBC Make It.

But not everyone reacted positively – some users commented, “You are a billionaire and in a time when America is in crisis you publish articles to help people by giving them a dress. opportunity ? and “Sara, can your company help with a pandemic by making masks?” “

However, gifting her wedding dress isn’t the only thing billionaire Blakely does to help.

Blakely and the Atlanta Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) (where Blakely lives) funded meals through Goodr, a food waste management company, to “feed hundreds of families in Atlanta over the past four years. coming weeks in a situation of food insecurity, ”she said.

Additionally, “We have fed hospital emergency physicians here in Atlanta by ordering lunch and dinner take-out from local restaurants for the past three weeks,” said Blakely. “Every lunch and dinner we deliver to hospitals. We see it as a win-win because we support local restaurants and give them income, while feeding the frontline people who really make a big difference.”

Blakely announced on Friday that she will also donate $ 5 million to help women entrepreneurs.

“I’m a business owner. I’ve been a business for 20 years. I understand what it feels like, so I’m going to donate $ 5,000 to 1,000 different women-owned businesses,” Blakely told NBC. “TODAY with Hoda and Jenna.”

“And I actually started Spanx with $ 5,000 20 years ago and I’m just so happy that I can lend a hand and help women who have bet on themselves, and now I find it now is a good time to bet on them. “

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This story has been updated to include news of Blakely’s $ 5 million donation.

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