Rosalia Mera, the co-founder of the Spanish fashion giant that owns Zara brand, passed away Thursday night. Inditex SA (MCE:ITX) confirmed the news in a press release. Inditex SA is the company she co-founded with her then husband Amancio Ortega in 1975. That small retail store in Spain has grown to become one of the world’s largest retailers. Rosalia Mera was 69, and she is survived by her son Marcos and daughter Sandra. She was one of the largest shareholders of Inditex SA (MCE:ITX), the owner of Zara brand, and the wealthiest woman in Spain.
Spanish media outlets reported that Mera was enjoying a vacation on the island of Menorca with her daughter when she suffered a stroke. She passed away in La Coruna at a hospital Thursday night, reports The Associated Press. Mera was born in La Coruna, a city in the Galicia region.
Inception of Zara
Rosalia Mera started working as a tailor at the age of 11. She started the first Zara store in La Coruna in 1975 with her then-husband Amancio Ortega. According to Bloomberg, Ortega is the third richest person in the world. After about 20 years of marriage, they divorced in 1986. Mera played a key role in the international expansion of Zara brand and Inditex SA.
Initially, Mera and Ortega had planned to name their store Zorba. But there was a bar in the neighborhood with the same name. So, they changed the name to Zara. The Zara store would sell low cost versions of expensive clothes. And that formula struck a chord with Spanish customers. They began to open more stores across the nation and then in international markets.
Rosalia Mera world’s richest self-made woman
Rosalia Mera left the Inditex SA (MCE:ITX) board in 2004, but she held about 5.1% stake in the company, according to The Associated Press. She had a net worth of $6.1 billion, which made her the richest self-made woman in the world.
Including Zara, Inditex SA has eight brands of retail store chains including Zara Home, Bershka, Uterque, Masssimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Pull & Bear and Oysho. Inditex SA operates 1,763 Zara stores worldwide, and 6,058 stores in total.