Madame C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Delta, Louisiana. Her parents were former slaves and she was orphaned at age seven.
Her mother died first and her father died shortly there after. Due to the fact of her impoverished background she received a very limited amount of education. She overcame the odds, and became the first American women of any race or statue to become a millionaire. She was married at the early age of fourteen and widowed by age twenty. (Source: Encyclopedia of Black America.
) Madame C. J. Walker was an artisan entrepreneur because she had the technical skill to invent a hair care preparation for black women. She had been poor for most of her life so as a result, she also has qualities of a refugee entrepreneur. She wanted to escape the life of a laundress and she had to provide for her daughter as well as herself because her husband was no longer living. She later remarried Charles J.
Walker from who she gained her name. The hair care preparation that she invented was known as Madame C. J. Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower. At first she sold her products door-to-door with instant success. Eventually she had enough capital to start her own cosmetic company.
In a time in history when the majority of metropolitan black women worked as maids or cooks, she was an owner of a corporation and employed an innumerable amount of people across the nation. Many people believe that it was Madame C. J. Walker who invented the straightening comb but she was not the inventor.
She employed the straightening comb in her system, which was intended to heal scalp disease through more frequent shampooing, massage, and the application of a salve consisting of petrolatum and medicinal sulfur. The System consisted of a shampoo, a pomade; which was considered the hair grower, vigorous brushing and the application of heated iron or combs to the hair. (Source: web) This method changed stubborn, dull hair into shining silkiness. The method became familiar throughout the world. The formula that she invented helped restore damaged and falling out hair. She expanded her business from the United States to Central America and the Caribbean.
Women dressed in white shirts tucked into long black skirts carrying black satchels made house calls selling the products and conducting demonstrations. (Source: web) Madame C. J. Walker established her business in Denver in July 1905. Shortly thereafter she left the business in the hands of her daughter. She decided to do some traveling in order to promote her product.
(Source: Bundles, A'Lelia P. "Madame C. J. Walker: Cosmetics Tycoon") She did demonstrations in homes, clubs, and churches, after much success she was able to open a second office in Pittsburgh in 1908, in which she allowed her daughter to manage. A new headquarters was created two years later to combine both offices. The new headquarters was constructed to serve as center of Walker enterprises.
The Walker College of Hair Culture and Walker Manufacturing Company. (Source: Bundles, A'Lelia P. "Madame C. J.
Walker: Cosmetics Tycoon") She was the president and sole owner and she provided employment for three thousand people. The Walker Manufacturing Co. Building included a plant with a theater, beauty shop, lunchroom, business offices and a drug store. (Source: Ebony Feb. 1930. ) It is now a National Historic Landmark, the name has been changed to the Madame Walker Theatre Center.
Today it is a cultural arts center and houses a beauty salon and organizational and professional offices. (Source: Bundles, A'Lelia P. "Madame C. J. Walker: Cosmetics Tycoon") Madame C.
J. Walker became very successful and even after being warned by her physicians that she needed to reduce her schedule she continued to work as diligently as she had when she started out. Her hypertension was what caused her to become ill, subsequently, she past away due to kidney failure along with her hypertension. Madame C. J.
Walker had one of the largest and most lucrative businesses conducted by people of color in America. Madame C. J. Walker was a woman determined to benefit from the rewards of entrepreneurship.
She possessed the characteristics of an entrepreneur, the need for achievement, the willingness to take risks, self-confidence and the passion for business. Being a woman and a minority did not encumber her at all. Ebony. (Chicago, IL: Johnson Publishing Co. ), (January, 1949) p. 162-164.
W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, editors. Encyclopedia of Black America. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981. Bundles, A'Lelia P.
, Madam C. J. Walker-Entrepreneur. New York: Chelsea, 1991. web October 20, 2001..