Madam C.J Walker born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 in Louisiana, of enslaved parents. She lived as an uneducated farm laborer, and a laundress, until she purchased her dreams to become a successful entrepreneur. She described her journey by saying: “I’m a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations… I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
The journey of Madam C.J Walker actually began by the 1890s when she started suffering from hair loss problem, that problem that not only she was facing! Many black women encountered the same issue because the hair products by that time weren’t adapted to black women hair, and the life conditions weren’t helpful for these women to get strong, healthy hair. Instead, they suffered from bald patches, which they had to cover with head wraps.
Madam C.J Walker did not want to follow that path as she was willing to elevate herself, and such attire would mark her lower social status. By then she started her journey towards finding the cure for her hair problems. Walker’s brothers worked as barbers, but knew nothing about women hair, nor about the scalp diseases. Therefore, Walker started working on home remedies, into which she implemented her knowledge concerning properties of cleaners, which she acquired through her experience as a washer woman.
As previously mentioned, there was a lack of products dedicated to black women by then, and still, Madam C.J Walker did not give up on trying the products she could buy! Among those products she discovered the product of Annie Malone which was beneficial to her issue. She later worked as a sales agent, selling the product «Wonderful Hair Grower ” made by Annie Malone , through her experience as a sales manager , she learned how to sell products, about scalp cleaning ,and hair nourishing.
Inspired by Annie Malone’s success, and with her eagerness to elevate herself, Madam Walker started developing her own hair products by the 1908, and she opened her own factory, and started a hair school called “Lelia College “. At this college she taught women to become hair culturists». Madam C.J eventually succeeded and got recognized as America’s first self-made female millionaire.
Her big achievement started small. From a laundress experience, and homemade remedies to the owner of the C.J Walker Products, a school, a factory, and a brand that is still alive nowadays. If we speak about her remarkable success we must not forget to tell about the challenges she faced. It is important to recognize that she accomplished all that in a segregated and highly sexist society. The success of Walker helped her philanthropic and political outreach increase. She helped African- American students, and became active in the anti-lynching movement. She even dedicated on her will two-thirds of her future net profits to charity, and donations to individuals and schools.
If you think that you have bad conditions, less knowledge, and not enough money to make your move into the business world! Take Madam C.J Walker as your inspiration, and as she said: «Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them! ” . If you want to learn more about Madam Walker, and get a motivation boost! We recommend you watch the Netflix’s recent, short serie of four episodes “Self-made”. It is inspired by the life story of Madam C.J Walker, it is a highly rated serie, and a surely motivational story to watch.