But public recognition of the company's value brings a certain level of validation, giving Spanx -- and Atlanta -- long overdue credit, Blakely said.
"Atlanta has been such a supportive community," said Blakely, a Florida native who moved to the city in the late '90s. "If I had launched in New York, I may have gotten lost in the shuffle."
Life as an entrepreneur hasn't been all sunshine and roses, but Blakely learned at an early age not to be beaten down by the challenges. "With every obstacle that has happened to me in my life, my brain immediately says, ‘Where is the hidden blessing?' " Blakely said. "In starting a business and growing a business, everyday is learning how to manage obstacles."
To celebrate like a billionaire, Blakely took her family for dinner at Ocean Grill on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "My brother said all day he was going to order the lobster," she said. "He ordered everything on the menu, including the caviar."