With the boom of hair care products within the last decade, naturalistas everywhere have been rejoicing in the selection and availability of products specific to their hair types. Companies and entrepreneurs alike continue to serve lots of curl love for all hair types, from 1a to 4c. It’s safe to say we have self-made powerhouse, Madam C.J. Walker, to thank for her impactful influence on the hair care industry and its forward momentum.
Madam C.J. Walker, birthed as Sarah Breedlove, was born December 23, 1867 near Delta, Louisiana. Walker is a businesswoman, philanthropist, activist, and the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. In her early years of life, Although born free, Walker endured hard labor, orphanage, relationship challenges, and physical stress. Her challenges didn’t stop her from persevering, and she began pursuing her own business in the early 1900s after developing a scalp disorder that caused her to lose her hair. Walker moved to Denver, Colorado, to start a new life. She and her husband launched her own African American hair care line that aimed to grow and straighten African Americans' hair while equipping black women with economic independence. She opened the "Walker System" training programs to educate and train over 20,000 African American women, and she owned a national team of licensed sales agents for her brand. After Walker closed the business in Denver in 1907. In 1910, Walker relocated her business to Indianapolis, where she established the headquarters for the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
Between 1911 and 1919, during the height of her career, Walker and her company employed several thousand women as sales agents. Walker understood the power of advertising and brand awareness. Heavy advertising, primarily in African-American newspapers and magazines, in addition to Walker's frequent travels to promote her products, helped make Walker and her products well known in the United States.
In addition to her savvy business skills, Walker donated to several charities, educational institutes, and other initiatives to help propel civil rights and education forward. In 1913, Walker donated the largest amount of money by an African American to the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA. She also did her part to petition President Woodrow Wilson at the White House to make lynching a federal crime. When she passed in 1919, her business sales topped $500,000, and her total worth was over $1 million.
Madam C.J. Walker’s influence still resonates today, even with the Camille Rose brand. Walker inspires Janell to continuously pursue her dreams to provide the best, well-sources hair and beauty products for our Rosettes, despite life’s obstacles.
Madam C.J. Walker’s life will be documented in the new Netflix series, “Self-Made: The Enduring Legacy of Madam C.J. Walker.” Octavia Spencer who will play Walker said, “…without Walker, we wouldn’t have the beauty culture within our culture.” You can watch the trailer here.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to highlight Walker during International Women’s Month, so stay tuned as we launch a special product inspired by her! Be on the lookout on March 20 for what will be hitting the shelves.