In the spirit of Women’s History Month, let’s celebrate some of the remarkable women leaders in business who have not only challenged the status quo, but also have harnessed IP to build and protect their businesses. 

From the inventive prowess of Sara Blakely’s shapewear, the disruptive force of Pinky Cole’s Slutty Vegan, to the strategic genius of Sherrese Clarke Soares in the music industry, these women leaders in business exemplify the power of IP in transforming ideas into tangible assets.

Sara Blakely’s Inventive Journey: A Spanx Story

The foundation of Sara Blakely’s billion-dollar empire, Spanx, is a testament to the transformative power of IP when coupled with unwavering self-belief and innovative problem-solving. Facing the dual challenges of a tight budget and the need to protect her idea, Blakely’s journey highlights the critical role of IP in business success. Unlike many entrepreneurs that might see financial constraints as a barrier, she viewed them as an opportunity to think differently.

Blakely invested time into learning about the patent process, taking a hands-on approach to draft the application herself. Understanding the importance of legal assistance for certain parts of the patent, she negotiated a discounted price with an attorney for the claims portion of the application. This strategic move ensured her invention was adequately protected without overstretching her limited resources. 

The initial patent served as the cornerstone for the company and marked the beginning of a journey that would see Sara Blakely’s Spanx evolve into a global brand. This story underscores a crucial lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs: The business is built on more than just an idea—it’s about how that idea is protected, nurtured, and allowed to flourish. 

Pinky Cole’s Culinary Empire: A Trademark of Success

Pinky Cole has masterfully portrayed the power of branding and trademark in building a culinary empire through her Slutty Vegan franchise. By strategically trademarking her business, Cole not only safeguarded her unique brand identity, but also laid down a blueprint for leveraging IP to sustain and grow a business. 

Cole’s philosophy on IP protection is rooted in the belief that as a business grows, every aspect of its marketing and branding becomes increasingly valuable. This value also makes it vulnerable to infringement, which can dilute the brand’s appeal and impact its growth. Pinky Cole’s insistence on protecting Slutty Vegan’s brand identity from the outset demonstrates a deep understanding of the role that IP plays in sustaining and enhancing business success. For Cole, IP protection isn’t just a defensive tactic; it’s a strategic move that ensures a brand’s uniqueness remains uncompromised. 

Sherrese Clarke Soares’: Harmonizing IP and Music

In the harmony of music and business, Sherrese Clarke Soares has orchestrated a noteworthy narrative on the strategic use of IP. Her venture, HarbourView Equity Partners, focuses on acquiring music rights in an age where streaming services dominate the music landscape. 

Clarke Soares’ understanding of IP’s role in the distribution and consumption of music forms her approach to the high-stakes world of music rights ownership and control. Herventure emphasizes the evolving nature of music consumption and the increasing importance of catalog ownership in maintaining user engagement on streaming services. By focusing on music rights, HarbourView Equity Partners plays a role in ensuring artists receive their rightful share of revenue generated from digital platforms. 

Blueprint for Future Innovators

The stories of Sara Blakely, Pinky Cole, and Sherrese Clarke Soares are tales of individual success and showcase the strategic foresight required in today’s IP environment. The journeys of these women leaders in business offer a blueprint for aspiring innovators and creatives, highlighting the critical role of IP knowledge, strategic planning, and the courage to disrupt traditional paradigms. As we celebrate their achievements, we also look forward to the future, inspired by their contributions and the endless possibilities that lie in the realm of IP.

The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit