Story Of Woman Who Became The First Self-Made Millionaire — Madam CJ Walker
The cosmetic industry is expected to reach $805 billion by 2023. From all the famous brands known today, one brand started in the 1900s that is still going strong. This is the story of a woman who became the first self-made millionaire in history, Madam CJ Walker.
The story of Madam CJ Walker begins in the Civil war. The civil war started in 1861 after tensions over slavery from the north and the southern states. The man elected president famously said in his speech in 1858 that “A house divided against itself, cannot stand”- Abraham Lincoln. The war lasted 4 years from 1861–1865, sadly killing 620,000 people. Four million men, women, and children were freed after the war, among them was a couple; Minerva Breedlove and Owen Breedlove. On December 23, 1867, they welcomed Sarah Breedlove. Sarah lost her mom at 7 and a year later she lost her dad. Young Sarah stated living with her sister and brother in law. At 14 she wanted a home of her own and got married, it is also said that she wanted to get away from her abusive brother in law. On June 6th, 1885 Moses McWilliams and Sarah gave birth to A’Lelia. Moses passed away in 1887 and Sarah decided to move to St. Louis where she worked as a washer earning $1.50 a day. This is where she met her second husband Charles J. Walker who worked in advertising. In 1890 Sarah now Madam CJ Walker started to loose hair. She came up with her own formula, for growing hair. With the product, her hair came back heather, she and her husband helped started advertising the product.
In 1907 the couple promoted her products door to door and in churches. She was her own walking advertisement. She was selling door to door willing to provide free treatment. In 1908 Ms. Walker opened a factory and a beauty school in Pittsburgh. She trained 1000 women so that they could join her as saleswomen. In 1913 20,000 women joined her, these women went from making $2/week to $20/week. By 1917 she had her first convention of saleswomen, where she famously said that as Walker agents your first duty is humanity. From the year 1900–1914 100’s of African Americans are murdered, she decided to use her resources to bring change and became politically active. She started to work closely with the NAACP-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She used the power of her sales force to raise awareness and on July 28, 1917, 10,000 African Americans walked silently in New York Silent Parade, organized by the NAACP, church, and community leaders to protest violence directed towards African American.
Four days after the silent parade, black leaders involved in the protest, including Madame C.J. Walker, went to Washington D.C. to meet the president. They left a petition for the president to remind him of African Americans serving in World War I and urged him to prevent riots and lynchings in the future.
On May 25th, 1919 Madam Walker passed away due to Kidney failure. She was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. She left a fortune of 1 million dollars and a sales force of 20,000 agents. Guinness world records have her as the First Woman to earn a personal fortune of more than $1,000,000. Madam CJ Walker is the perfect example of not allowing your current situation to dictate your outcome She once said that “I got my start by giving myself a start one”. She worked hard and deserved everything she had.