Madam C. J. Walker made her mark in the beauty industry and the world by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Any one of the obstacles she faced in her lifetime would be enough to showcase this esteemable woman’s strength and fortitude; but the fact that she faced enormous adversity, makes her story and her achievements all the more remarkable.
She was born Sarah Breedlove in December 1867, the first of her family to be born into freedom subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation. Orphaned by the age of seven, she married at the age of 14, gave birth to her daughter at 17, and was widowed at the tender age of 20. Mme. Walker refused the notion that either she or her child would be victims of circumstance.
She was determined to make a better life for herself and her little girl. Under the tutelage of her brothers, who owned and operated a barbershop, she learned about hair care and business management. She furthered her business and hair care acumen while selling hair products for a woman who would later become a fierce competitor.
With the true spirit of an entrepreneur, and because she herself suffered with a scalp disease, she developed her own line of hair “curatives” designed especially for women of color in 1906. Her efforts paid off in such a grand way that she began recruiting other women to work for her — training them in the art of business, personal development, and social awareness. In 1914, she declared “I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”
By the time of her death in 1919, Madam C.J. Walker had made a great name for herself as a business woman, a philanthropist, and as the first female self-made millionaire in America.
For further reading about this amazing woman, see bio.com’s Madam C.J. Walker’s Secrets to Success