This month’s entrepreneur spotlight focuses on one of the richest men in Europe! As of the date I wrote this blog post, his real-time net worth was listed at $65.5 billion. Ortega is considered a revolutionary in the field of fast-fashion and has investments in more than 6 cities across 3 countries.
Claim To Fame: Zara, Inditex
Amancio Ortega is a Spanish-born entrepreneur. He got his first taste of the fashion industry around the age of 14 when he gained employment at Gala, a local shirtmaker. It was here that Ortega learned how to handcraft clothing. After some time, he moved on to manage a retail store meant specifically for wealthy gentlemen.
The billionaire has a reputation for being extremely private about his personal life, so not much else is known about his early years. In fact, he’s so private that he had only given three journalist interviews as of 1986, and the first photo of him wasn’t published until 1999; an impressive feat considering he began his ascent into entrepreneur stardom nearly two decades earlier.
Amancio founded his first company in 1963. It was called Confecciones Goa and it specialized in the sale of bathrobes.
Amancio Ortega and his late wife Rosalia Mera opened their first Zara location in 1975. By 2009, the company was a part of a larger group known as Inditex. The parent company is home to several well-known brands including Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear, and Bershka. Ortega owned just under 60% of Inditex —the Spanish entrepreneur founded the holding company in 1985. It went public in 2009.
A (then) unique feature of Ortega’s Zara stores was the concept of fast-fashion. For those unfamiliar with the concept, fast-fashion occurs when clothing manufacturers “sample” looks from prominent runways and reproduce them using less expensive materials and more efficient manufacturing methods and supply chains. It was a relatively new idea in the 1970s, but it took hold quickly because it provided consumers with a quick, affordable way to obtain looks that were or would be trending in the fashion industry.
In 2011, Amancio Ortega retired from Inditex while maintaining his majority stake. Within the year he began acquiring various commercial buildings around the world. His real estate holdings, which he purchased with the help of dividends from his entrepreneurial career, helped bolster his already significant wealth. As of February 2019, Forbes reported that Ortega tends to earn approximately $400 million per year in dividends.
Find out more about Amancio Ortega and other Entrepreneurs in Think Like by Aaron Sansoni!