ZARA Co-Founder Rosalía Mera Dies at the Age of 69

Thursday, 15th of August 2013, saw the loss of one of Spain’s richest self-made female billionaires – Rosalia Mera, who died at the age of 69, after suffering a stroke while on holiday in the Balearic island of Menorca.  This year Forbes listed her as the world’s 195th richest billionaire with a fortune of US$6.1 billion, the highest-placed among Spanish women, she was also described as the richest self-made woman in the world.

Another inspirational story. Born in 1944 in the Spanish town of la Coruna, she dropped out of school at 11 and started work as a seamstress. In 1963 she met Ortega, who was working for a shirt maker, and together they began making quilts and lingerie based on top-end designs, but sold at a fraction of the price. She later founded the Inditex textile giant alongside her husband, Amancio Ortega, whom she later divorced. Besides Zara, the Inditex group owns a number of successful international brands including Massimo Dutti and Pull and Bear amongst the many.

So where did the name ZARA originate from? The pair was going to call the business Zorba, I’m not sure it would have been as popular as ZARA, especially in Malta. Can you imagine, asking your friend is that from Zorba?! Anyway, they made moulds for the letters of the name and where ready to launch but they were forced into a late change when they discovered a bar in the city was already called Zorba; instead of throwing their moulds away, they improvised and ZARA was born. Genius in the making!

What distinguishes ZARA’s from other brands? I believe that ZARA has built its empire by delivering the latest top-end designs to customers at an affordable price, and it’s improving every season! Another key factor is ZARA’s legendary “fast fashion” model, which means the stock is turned over every two weeks, cutting down the time between the catwalk and the shop floor in a way that few retailers can replicate. One must not forget to mention how sales soared after Kate (Middleton) wore a ZARA dress the day after she married Prince William.

The chain became one of the truly iconic global fashion chains; it now spans 86 countries and has more than 6,000 stores, including six in Australia.