Just in case you didn't know, we thought to share with you the story about the daughter of a former slave who went from the cotton fields of Mississippi to one of the first black women millionaires in the world of beauty. Yes… before the likes of major beauty companies like Estee Lauder and Coco Chanel revamped the way women thought about eau de parfum and cold cream there was Madam C.J. Walker. Madam Walker was a revolutionary entrepreneur thanks to products like Wonderful Hair Grower and her extensive line of Walker products. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
Madam Walker born Sarah Breedlove, was one of six children; one sister and four brothers. In our research we learned something new about Madam Walker, three of her brothers were barbers at a local barbershop in St Louis. In 1906 she married Charles Joseph Walker, a newspaper advertising salesman.
Madam Walker at the wheel, circa 1916 with friends
Why Feature Madam C.J.Walker
Now you may be wondering why we selected Madam Walker to feature in our Black History Month Wedding Pro feature. Just think about how much our hair means to us, it's everything . I have a ton of girlfriends who won't go anywhere if they are having a bad hair day, according to their own standards of course! Most of the time we are our worst critic, even when someone gives us a compliment when we think we are at our worst. How many times have we politely apologized for having a bad hair day. Let's face it, one feels good all the way around when the hair is tight and just right! Thanks to pioneers like Madam C.J. Walker for creating beauty and hair products that have been revolutionized through the years for women of color to maintain healthy hair.
A few of our favorite quotes by Madam Walker…
"I gave my start by giving myself a start"
"There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard."
From the biography of Madam C.J. Walker A’Leila Bundles
Life Lessons from Madam Walker
Madam Walker may have lived in the past but the lessons from her story resonate now:
• She thought BIG, and pursued her goals without limit. “People closest to you can be your biggest obstacles,” A’lelia said, explaining that Madam Walker’s husband was satisfied when they were making only $10 a day. She later divorced him when she discovered he was having an affair with one of her agents.
• She shared her success. Providing hair care was important to build black women’s self-esteem, but so was giving them the opportunity to support themselves and earn a living wage. Madam Walker was generous to charities and not only did she give prizes to her best sales agents, she also gave prizes to the women who were the most philanthropic in their communities.
• She stood up for herself. “As a woman, she wasn’t always taken seriously,” A’Lelia said, citing Booker T. Washington's 1912 entrepreneurship conference, where the millionaire Walker wasn’t even invited to sit on the dais. She had to make her case from the audience, and make it she did.
Madame C.J. Walker
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Social Activist & Inventor, December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919
For more information about Madam C.J. Walker, click here.