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One-on-one with new Spanx CEO Jan Singer | News

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One-on-one with new Spanx CEO Jan Singer

ATLANTA (WXIA) – She is leading one of Atlanta's most well-known companies – Spanx. Jan Singer was tapped last year by founder Sara Blakely to lead the shapewear giant.


During a one-on-one interview with 11Alive's Melissa Long, Singer talked about fashion trends, climbing the ladder and what skills will make someone indispensable anywhere.

The fashion industry is always evolving. In addition to new styles, fabrics and engineering, Spanx also has a new CEO.

Last year, when the company's long-time CEO parted ways with the billion-dollar company, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, who started the company 15 years ago in her Virginia Highland apartment, brought former Nike executive Jan Singer on board.

Singer moved from Oregon with her husband and children. Now, she's focused on another move – to Spanx's new larger headquarters at Buckhead Atlanta later this year.

"Innovation is our core equity," Singer said. "And so we want to be able to innovate on site. It's proprietary and we don't necessarily want all of that out of house."

Innovation is crucial as they cater to generations of customers -- from the new client to the long-time consumer.

"The girl who we're talking about, who Sara originally intended, her whole life has changed," Singer said. "She's not the same as she was 15 years ago. There's almost two forms of maturing going on. There's the maturing of the customer, there's the maturing of the company simultaneously."

So how does the company now approach this year, five years from now, the next ten years as a mature company, which is a very different strategy when you're just out of the gate.

"A very mature company has got to be multitasking," said Singer. "You have to be able to serve women. And to do that, you have to know what she wants to be served with. Today, most brands have got to balance their vision with her voice. And the brands that don't -- really lose their soul."

Also at the soul of SPANX and Blakely's vision -- empowering other women.

"She is interested in growing this business -- not to make more money for her, but to make money to be able to shape others' lives to give back."

Singer is also all about empowerment.

"It's essential that we support people who want to win. Whether they're women or men," she said.

And she appreciates those who helped her climb the ladder.

"I've been really blessed in my career to have people support me," she said. "I had my last leader of nine years of Nike's time was a gentleman who supported me through my career there. Gave me space at the table, gave me a voice and gave me opportunity."

Spanx currently 220 employees in Atlanta and Singer says they're always looking for talent.

So what is it that makes a great Spanx employee?

"I would say in general, no matter the company, the willingness to do whatever it takes," Singer said. "Optimism and energy giving. Wanting to learn and grow. Being open to coaching and developing."

"What's the biggest mistake you've ever made professionally?" Long asked.

"Oh gosh, I knew you'd ask me that," Singer said. "I don't think it's about one thing. You make the wrong product, you hire the wrong person, you make a decision on a budget. It happens. But the most important part is that recovery. What'd you learn from it. Don't make the same mistake twice and recover quickly."

5 Career Lessons from SPANX CEO, Jan Singer

  1. Ask questions and be receptive to help. Understand that you won't know everything.
  2. Fail fast, recover quickly, find the value in the mistake and move on.
  3. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Most enduring things take a village.
  4. Balance is subjective. What seems in balance for one is out of balance for another. Find consistency and flow.
  5. Let go of the life you've planned, to have the life waiting for you.