28 Days of Royalty: Madame C.J. Walker

Determined ♥ Innovative ♥ Inspiring.

Do you have a bright idea that you think can help many people and in the process pay your bills and possibly even send your children to college? Did you give up or slow down on that idea because it was just too difficult, strenuous and/or too time-consuming to achieve? This is perfect for you! Read on and learn about a courageous African-American woman who bravely built her company from the ground up even when all odds were stacked against her and her only daughter.

Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on a Louisiana plantation that her parents sharecropped, Madame C.J. Walker would go on to become America’s first self-made female millionaire. Walker became an entrepreneur after suffering from a scalp disorder that resulted in severe hair loss. During the 1890’s, when her hair began to fall out, Walker sought remedies that she hoped would cure her scalp condition. In 1905, Walker began working as a sales agent for Annie Malone, another black female hair product entrepreneur. The sales position relocated Walker to Denver; this move became the catalyst for Walker’s success. There in Denver, she found her third (but short-term) husband Charles Joseph Walker, changed her name to “Madame” C.J. Walker, founded her own hair product business, and began a door-to-door sales hustle of her products. She strategically traveled the deep south to promote and teach interested potential customers how to get the most out of her products. As business picked up, Walker moved to Pittsburgh in 1908 to temporarily run her business and open a beauty college-like establishment to train her sales teams. The actions Walker took in her business were innovative, creative, and avante-garde. In 1910 she had moved her business to the then-largest inland manufacturing area, Indianapolis. There she built a factory, a one-stop shop (hair and nail beauty salon), and another beauty college. Throughout the growth of her “all-things hair and beauty” empire, Walker supported the efforts of black higher education and the civil rights movement. She donated generously to what we know today as Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s) and to organizations like the NAACP.

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Madame C.J. Walker December 23, 1867 - May 25, 1919

Madame C.J. Walker
December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919

“I got my start by giving myself a start.”

“One night I had a dream, and in that dream a big black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up for my hair. I made up my mind that I would begin to sell it.”

“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.”

– Madame C.J. Walker

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Embarking upon the entrepreneurship path is not an easy one but it is a well-worth-it one. Each individual is born with and acquire through schooling and training special skills and talents. If there is a special something you do well and enjoy doing, take the leap! Be bold and put the fears to the side. Become the entrepreneur you are absolutely capable of becoming. Requirements: Hard-work. Dedication. Time. Persistence. Patience and Positivity. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Do your homework and research whatever it is to learn more and to stay in the know.

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Work Cited

  • madamecjwalker.com
  • video: WSHH youtube