Home / Madam C. J. Walker, The First Self-Made Female Millionaire in America

Madam C. J. Walker, The First Self-Made Female Millionaire in America

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Sarah Breedlove Walker was born in 1867 to former slaves in northeast Louisiana. Orphaned at a young age, she made her way to St. Louis and supported herself as a washerwoman for 18 years. A scalp condition caused some of her hair to fall out, and she experimented with a variety of homemade concoctions in an effort to regrow her hair. When new hair sprouted, it was soft and shiny, and her friends asked to try some of her miracle formula.

There were virtually no hair products available specifically for African-Americans at the time, and Sarah saw a business opportunity. She found she had a knack for marketing, and before long, she founded the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company with her husband, Charles Joseph Walker. Sarah tirelessly sold her product door-to-door and recruited other women to do the same. By 1910, she had over 1,000 sales agents, which gave her time to develop new products like hair conditioners and facial creams.

The woman who had $2 to her name when she arrived in St. Louis was a millionaire by 1914.

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  • Eddie M

    I just googled ”inventions created in dreams” and came across Madam C. J. Walker who invented her product in a dream. It said she was the first female self made millionaire in America… but what I thought was interesting is that she is black.. and I never have heard about her. I guess text books only want you to know so much… you have to go out and seek history on your own.

  • emily

    madam m.j. walker is a true legend in my life and one great millionaire!

  • bree singletary

    it about time people learned some real history and stop worrying about these rappers and the celeb gossip.

  • bree macintire

    this is really some history everyone should read

  • I hve always been impressed by Madam C.J. Walker’s story and quite surprised that we don’t hear more about her. She overcame several huge obstacles: gender, race, and poverty to become a success.