For Women's History Month- Madame CJ Walker: Mother of Black Beauty Products
Happy Women’s History Month. It seems only appropriate for a female and black owned hair/beauty company to talk about Madame CJ Walker.
Born Sarah Breedlove, Madame CJ Walker attended Poro College, which focused on helping African American women learn about black hair and skin care to create their own beauty care businesses. This was in the late 1890s.
Her business thrived on what was called the “Walker System.” It consisted of scalp preparation, lotions and iron combs. She made her own pomades. She was not the first to make hair products for black hair, but most before her were white owned companies. And making her stand out even more, Walker also focused on the health of the scalp and hair. This was likely inspired by her own struggles with a scalp disorder that caused hair loss.
By 1906, she had started her own business selling hair care products door-to-door in the South.
It did not take her long to become a success, and by 1908 she had opened her own company and school in Pittsburgh. She then began to travel to the Caribbean and South America to spread her business.
Madame CJ Walker died in 1919 as the first black female millionaire in the US.
But she was so much more than an entrepreneur and millionaire. The self-made millionaire funded scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated large parts of her wealth to the NAACP, the Black YMCA and other charities.
In her own home, she set up a salon and trained other women on how to start businesses and promote themselves.
She was the perfect example of empowered women empowering women.