But the secret wasn’t in the prototype per se
It was in the metaphor that drove her to cut the feet of those hose.
—“Shapewear is the canvas and the clothes are the art.” –Sara Blakely
While the metaphor may not have been explicitly articulated at the time, it was clearly already active in her mind.
Like an unsmoothed piece of gessoed canvas on which no amount of paint could hide the imperfections, the clothes women wore showed what was beneath. Blakely didn’t like the fact that underwear, and how it assaulted a woman’s body, was able to be seen through clothes. Every ripple, every bulge, insidiously showed itself. The masterpiece of beauty was betrayed by faulty ‘canvas.’
That first prototype solved the problem: The shapewear became a flawless canvas enabling a work of art to be ‘painted’ upon it. The masterpiece could shine through un-detracted by the canvas beneath. A new problem revealed itself: The legs of the cut hose kept rolling up. But that didn’t detract from the fact that a solution had been found. From that point on, the process of refining the product was geared towards comfort, manufacturability and scalability.
The Metaphor Stayed Active
As a guest on James Altucher’s Podcast recently, Blakely proclaimed: “Everything is a Canvas!” (A perspective that also drove her creation of The Belly Art Project.) This metaphor has continued to drive the development of Spanx product lines. It’s powerful because it acknowledges the potential works of art that are enabled through their products. Spanx make people feel good about being walking art.
Feel The Metaphor
When solving problems, tune in to the emotions you’re feeling. You may not be able to articulate what you’re feeling, but acknowledge it nonetheless. If you can articulate them, great! Regardless, start acting on them. Humans make sense of the world through metaphor. Start acting on those feelings and see if a metaphor is revealed and if it is resolved. Some kinks might still need to be worked out, but you’ll recognize the solution when it’s present.
“Good Design is Obvious. Great Design is Transparent.” – Joe Soprano
Spanx are transparent, just as a smooth canvas should be. The greatness is apparent to women and men worldwide.