Madame C. J. Walker (1867-1919)

Madame C. J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) was America’s first Black millionaire businesswoman. Mixing one concoction of oils after another in a washtub, she finally created a hairdressing formula that influenced the hair industry and changed the looks of black women.

In 1905, she invented and patented a straightening comb, which when heated and used with her hairdressing formula changed tightly curled, lusterless hair into shining smooth hair. She traveled alone for two years demonstrating her “Walker Method.”

By 1919, the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company stretched an entire city block and provided employment for over 3,000 people. At the time of her death, she had acquired a vast empire in excess of one million dollars.

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