Rosalia Mera was a business woman and billionaire, born on 28 January 1944 in La Coruna Spain. The self made billionaire married Amancio Ortega, the founder of ZARA in 1966, but the couple divorced twenty years later. Despite the separation, Mera retained a 7% stake in the company she and her ex-husband founded. She diversified her portfolio during the retailer’s 2001 IPO that saw her net $600 million.
Mera’s interests in finding a cure for cancer caused her to invest her money in a marine fish farming group, a company responsible for carrying out cancer research using oceanic products. She also invested in a company that made fingerprinting identifications systems to track newborns and also in the Bulgari Hotel in London. Mera and Ortega has two children, Sandra and Marcos. Marcos was born mentally disabled, which induced Mera to start the Paideia Foundation whose aim was to integrate people with physical and mental disabilities.
Mera’s career started when she dropped out of school to work as a seamstress at a tender age of eleven. Her passion in designing clothes motivated her ex-husband and together they ventured into making dressing gowns and lingerie. A move that saw the couple open the first Zara store in 1975, a multi-billion business empire best known for its Zara brand. The couple wanted to name the store Zorba after they were fascinated by the 1964 film “Zorba the Greek” but later changed their minds after discovering a business having the same name two blocks away.
Mera and Ortega later co-founded Inditex, a parent company of the Zara retail stores. Over the years Inditex grew to cover over 5000 stores operating in at least 86 countries. Inditex is famous for brands like Stradivarius, Masssimo Dutti, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Bershka and Zara. Zara’s success was based on its part in mimicking the trending high-fashion clothes and quickly selling them at less exorbitant prices.
According to the latest Forbes count, Mera had a net worth of $6.1 billion at the time of her death, which makes her the second wealthiest self-made woman from Spain and the world’s 66th richest woman. Her ex-husband Ortega, 77, is the world’s third richest man, with a net worth of $57 billion and owns 59.3% stake in Inditex. Mera was also politically active. She spoke against conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s plans of tightening Spain abortion laws. She also opposed the government plan of cutting back on important programs like education and health.
On August 15 2013, Mera was admitted into the San Rafael de A Coruna Hospital where she died at the age of 61.Her death was confirmed by Inditex on 16 Aug 2013. Spanish News Papers said she suffered a brain hemorrhage when vacationing with her daughter, Sandra, at the Mediterranean island of Menorca. The London newspaper The independent said in the obituary that Mera’s designs were ‘a bit shocking at the time” but immediately popular.