These Entrepreneurs Stretch the New Horizons

A little flexibility goes a long way.

Dana Santi

Dana realized that Chicago’s western suburbs would be an excellent place to open a facility for Pilates (puh-LAH-teez), an unusual and intense physical fitness program involving equipment with strange names like the “Reformer” and the “Cadillac,” so she opened the Pilates Core in La Grange, Illinois in 2002. Growing up, she was no stranger to business as her mother ran a dance school in town for 21 years and her father also owned his own business. The young Dana learned from her parents’ mistakes and also from their best business practices. “My mom always had very little turnover, because she would always say that if you like your staff, pay them well,” she said. She went to college for two years and studied physical education. Above all, she wanted to get paid to exercise, and once she found traditional Pilates and started doing it, she knew that she could do it forever. Today, Dana teaches Pilates the way the founder intended it to be taught. After starting her business, she initially put ads in local newspapers, but word-of-mouth advertising proved to be the best method. To learn more about Dana’s business or Pilates in general, visit her site at

Craig Newmark

Craig is dedicated to keeping the Internet free and is best known for creating, an online community that helps people find jobs, places to live, or other services unique to their city. In 1994, he was working a computer security job and was looking for ways to improve his social life. He started an e-mail list among his friends and sent out messages about events around the San Francisco area. Craigslist grew wildly after this simple beginning and was soon incorporated as a private for-profit company in 1999. By 2000, the site had expanded into nine more U.S. cities, eight more by 2003, and 14 more by 2004. Craigslist was so successful at selling classified listings on the Internet that eBay bought a 25 percent stake in 2004 from a former Craigslist employee. Yet Craigslist has clung to its original values set by Newmark, stubbornly remaining small, efficient, and free of ads or user fees.

Sara Blakely

After flunking her law-school admission tests twice, Sara entered the business world as a chipmunk at Disney World and then sold copiers and fax machines door-to-door. Her surprising multi-million dollar product came to her while she was performing stand-up comedy: she cut the feet out of her pantyhose so her white pants wouldn’t show her panty lines on stage and Spanx was born. In 1998, Sara took $5,000 in savings and began her adventure into the hosiery industry. After countless disappointments, Sara convinced a mill to manufacture her footless pantyhose. Sara cold-called all of the top retail stores across the country, and following a demonstration of her pantyhose, Nieman Marcus agreed to test Spanx in several of their stores. After landing on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list, Spanx expanded distribution to other major department stores. Today, Sara has built a multi-million dollar company and has become wellknown internationally.

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