• Famous From Louisiana •

Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919)
America’s first African-American Female Millionaire.
“I got my start by giving myself a start.”

Madame CJ Walker was born in 1867 in poverty-stricken rural Louisiana. The daughter of former slaves, she was orphaned at the age of seven. After leaving the plantation, she traveled to St. Louis to join her four brothers who had established themselves as barbers. During this period, she saved enough money to educate her only daughter.

During the 1890s, Sarah began to suffer from a scalp disease that caused her to lose some of her hair. Embarrassed by her appearance, she experimented with a variety of homemade remedies and products.

Moving to Denver and changing her name to Madame CJ Walker, Sarah founded her own business and began selling her own product called Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula. To promote her products, she embarked on a grueling sales drive throughout the South and Southeast selling her products door to door, giving demonstrations. In 1908, she opened a college in Pittsburgh to train her “hair culturists.”

The Walker System:
Eventually, her products formed the basis of a thriving national corporation employing over 3,000 people, later becoming the marketing basis for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her Walker System, which included a broad offering of cosmetics, licensed Walker Agents, and Walker Schools offered meaningful employment and personal growth to thousands of Black women. Madame Walker’s aggressive marketing strategy combined with unstoppable ambition led her to become America’s first African-American Female Millionaire.

Having amassed a fortune in fifteen years, this pioneering businesswoman died at the age of 52.

Madame Walker on Herself
“I am 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”


~ by Voltima on April 28, 2010.

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