One of the pioneers of the hair care industry is an African-American woman named Sarah Breedlove. After becoming a widow at the age of 20, the pressures in her day-to-day life as a single mother led to a bad bout of hair loss in her 30s. This prompted Breedlove to find a magical cure to promote hair growth. After testing a formula made by a woman named Annie Turnbo, Breedlove remarried, changed her name to Madame C.J. Walker, and founded her own company, which launched the iconic product, Madam C.J. Walker Wonderful Hair Grower.
With her knack for being an expert marketer and a natural door-to-door saleswoman, she acquired a fortune that was valued at an estimated $1 million dollars at the time of her 1919 death. Today, Black History in Two Minutes or So honors Walker as the first black female self-made millionaire.
Robert F. Smith
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Archival Materials Courtesy of:
Alamy Images Getty Images Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society (some images altered) Madam Walker Family Archives / A’Lelia Bundles Sadie Dayton Photography S0336.67.S0336 Black History Photograph Collection. The State Historical Society of Missouri.
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