Rosalia Mera, the co-founder of Spanish fashion chain Zara and former wife of Inditex-founder Amancio Ortega, has passed away at age 69. She died from a stroke.
At the start of a fashion empire
Mera was married to Amancio Ortega for years and together they opened the first Zara together in 1975, in A Coruña. It would be the start of an empire that is still worth annual sales of 15.9 billion euro and which holds other brands such as Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, Uterqüe. The clothes of the company now called Inditex are sold at 6,000 shops across 86 markets.
At the time of her death, Rosalia Mera held 7% of the shares of Inditex. Her former husband – who she divorced in 1986 – owns 59.3%. She quit the board of directors in 2004.
Richest ‘self-made’ woman in the world
Next to Inditex, Mera invested in a company involved in fish-farming, a company that is working on a cure for cancer using products found in the ocean and in the exclusive Bulgari Hotel in London. She used the money she made when Inditex went public in 2001.
She was also involved in charity via her Paideia Foundation. It focused on the integration of people with a physical or mental handicap. She was also powering a competition for young jazz musicians in Spain. The capital of Mera was estimated at 4.6 billion euro. It made her the richest woman in Spain and according to Forbes the richest self-made woman in the world.
Started career in sewing studio
Mera had a modest origin: she was born in a working class family and started working in a sewing studio when she was eleven. Later she started making lingerie and robes for women in her living room, together with her husband.
Mera had a stroke on the island of Menorca, where she was on vacation with her daughter. She was transported to the mainland, but to no avail. She leaves a son Marcos and a daughter Sandra behind. Marta, the youngest child of her former husband Ortega, has a different mother.