Women You Should Know – Madam C.J. Walker

//Women You Should Know – Madam C.J. Walker

Women You Should Know – Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919)


Sarah Breedlove who was later known as Madam C.J. Walker, Walker Manufacturing Co.

Sarah Breedlove, who was later known as Madam C.J. Walker. (Photo: A’Lelia Bundles/Madam Walker Family Archives)

A shrewd businesswoman and innovative entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker was the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire.  Walker drew from her personal experiences with hair loss to develop her own line of hair and beauty products.   The “Walker system” combined scalp preparation, lotions, and iron combs.  Unlike other cosmetic products of the day, Walker argued that her products were more sensitive to the needs of African-American women. 

Madam Walker’s initial investment into her business was $1.25 (slightly more than $30 in 2017).  Her natural abilities in marketing and self-promotion tactics grew her $1.25 investment into a million-dollar business and recruited a salesforce of women who became known as “beauty culturalists.”  These saleswomen were specially trained by Walker and sold her products door-to-door, granting them financial independence. 

Walker was also a philanthropist who funded scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated money to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), and many other charities.  At the time of her death in 1919, Walker was considered the wealthiest woman in America, having turned a $1.25 investment into a million-dollar manufacturing company with over 15,000 international agents.

By | 2017-03-01T09:12:15+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Women You Should Know – Madam C.J. Walker

About the Author:

Pathbuilders was founded in 1995 with a unique focus on developing the potential of high-performing women and creating gender-diverse organizations. Today, Pathbuilders leverages the corporate experience of its leadership team to develop impactful developmental experiences for both high-potential women and men in forward thinking organizations.