25 Mar 2024

Meet Madam C.J. Walker


Madam C.J. Walker, also known as Sarah Breedlove was a pioneering African American entrepreneur. She was also the first woman to become a self-made millionaire in the United States! Her story doesn’t only teach us about financial success but also how to be resilient.



Early Life

Madam C.J. Walker was born in 1867 in Louisiana. Although she had lots of siblings, her parents died when she was young and she became an orphan. Because of this, she’d only had 3 months of schooling and started working as a servant as a child.

To move out of her troublesome foster home, she married a man and had a daughter, who she called A’Lelia. When her husband died, she moved to St. Louis to find a job to provide for her and her daughter. However, throughout her jobs, she only earned around a dollar a day and lived in poverty.



At this time, she suffered a lot of problems with her scalp and hair. She became passionate about haircare and started selling products for a company. She realised that there wasn’t a lot of care behind haircare for African American women. So she took her knowledge from selling products to develop her own, specifically addressing these problems.

In the early 1900s, she started selling her products door-to-door. She was passionate about black women’s economic independence and employed black women as sales agents. This helped women economically because they were limited in their job choices due to racism. It also developed a sense of community and empowerment.


Source: National Museum of African American History & Culture


Her business began to grow, and thousands of black women were working for her brand. As well as training them as salespeople, she also showed them a range of other skills. She taught budgeting and how to build business amongst other things.

She also founded her own Manufacturing Company in 1906. After this, she opened a beauty school too! When she died in 1919, her products were sold nationwide.



Other than her business, she worked hard to advocate for civil rights and social justice. She used her wealth to support and empower black people during a critical time in American history.

Madam C. J. Walker’s work goes far beyond the money she earnt. Her life serves as an inspiration for generations to come. She shows us the power of entrepreneurship. She shows us why we should never give up. She shows us the power of uplifting others.

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