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Who was the first self-made African-American millionaire?

If you’ve watched the Netflix show Self Made then you may be familiar with the life of our next leading lady in history where hair care wasn’t just a product, it was a movement.

A Look Back In Time

Sarah Breedlove was the first child in her family born into freedom. In her words, "I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there, I was promoted to the washtub. From there, I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there, I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground."

Sarah suffered from dandruff and hair loss and having worked under Annie Malone (another powerhouse in history), she decided to make her own path in creating hair products for African-American women. After marrying Charles Joseph Walker, she became known as Madame C.J. Walker and her business took flight from there.

As she built her hair empire with “Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower,” she also employed thousands of women who became sales agents and advocates for her company. Her product was a game-changer for African American women, and her daughter helped build the company to be at the forefront of culture and society.

Inventor’s Impact

Madam is known for her self-made (hence the Netflix title) rise to millionaire status, but she also was philanthropic in her ambitions. She was actively involved in politics and donated to countless organizations over the years. In her untimely passing, she left two-thirds of her future profits to charities and schools.

There is no patent to show for Madam’s efforts, yet her contribution to healthy hair is remarkable. Her legacy reaches so far across history, that you can actually purchase a new hair-care line made in her honor.

So next time you reach for conditioning cream, think of Madam and her pursuit of products that improve health and inspire confidence.

We are on a mission


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