madam cj walker
madam cj was born sarah breedlove in 1867 on a louisiana cotton plantation. orphaned at 7, married at 14, and widowed at 20 with a daughter to support, she didn’t have what could be considered an easy start to life. she relocated to st louis and took up work as a washerwoman to put her daughter a’leila through school. during the 1890s, she suffered from alopecia - a particularly common ailment among black women at the time, owing in part to an abundance of products which damaged the hair. while working for another hair company, she began producing her own products which focused on conditioning the scalp and healing the extensive damage that so many women had suffered. ‘madam walker’s wonderful hair grower’ was not only intended to provide black women with a much-needed solution to their hair woes - she also saw it as a way to advance the status of african americans within the usa.
within a few years, she had opened a factory and a beauty school, and as well as continuing to manufacture her cosmetics, she also trained sales beauticians. their focus was on ‘the walker method’ - which involved scalp preparation, the application of lotions, and the use of hot combs. her empire eventually employed 40,000 african american men & women across the usa, central america, and the caribbean. not only was she massively successful from a business perspective - she was also famous for being an altruistic and benevolent employer. bonuses were offered to employees who undertook charitable work, and she ran training programmes for all employees. consider also the fact that she donated massive amounts of money to charity, founded educational scholarships, supported many african american-run philanthropic ventures, visited the white house to petition anti-lynching laws, and hosted one of the usa’s first national meetings of businesswomen - and it’s safe to conclude that she was a complete & utter force to be reckoned with. at the time of her death, madam cj's business was valued at over $1million, making her one of america’s first female self-made millionaires. inspiration to get you through the week ahead if ever i’ve seen it. what a legend.
GRLCLB HQ now listening:
‘fineshrine’ by purity ring
see you tomorrow sweet friends xoxoxoxoxox