It’s the first day of Black history month and we’ll be highlighting 29 black women throughout the month. For what we do around here, what better person could start this month off for us than the lovely Madam C.J. Walker.
Just like her, we’re here to provide quality hair products that no other company can provide for women and men.
Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), born Sarah Breedlove, was an African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur and philanthropist. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. At her death she was considered to be the wealthiest African-American woman in America and known to be the first self-made female American millionaire.
Like many women of her era, Sarah experienced hair loss. Because most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating and electricity, they bathed and washed their hair infrequently. The result was scalp disease. Sarah experimented with home remedies and products already on the market until she finally developed her own shampoo and an ointment that contained sulfur to make her scalp healthier for hair growth.
Soon Sarah, now known as Madam C. J. Walker, was selling her products throughout the United States. While her daughter Lelia ran a mail order business from Denver, Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train “hair culturists.” In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where she established her headquarters and built a factory.
She began to teach and train other black women in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave other lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. After the East St. Louis Race Riot, she joined leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their efforts to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. In 1918 at the biennial convention of the National Association Of Colored Woman (NACW) she was acknowledged for making the largest contribution to save the Anacostia (Washington, DC) house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She continued to donate money throughout her career to the NAACP, the YMCA, and to black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, and retirement homes.