Black History is Business History

I will never forget the first time I heard an instructor tell the class that the first person to successful sale products door to door was some Caucasian man in the 1950s. He obviously had never heard of Sarah Breedlove or Annie Malone, women who became millionaires by selling their products door to door. They started as far back as 1890. Breedlove became Madam CJ Walker who sold haircare and grooming products.

This Is Our History

Madam CJ Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana in 1887. After moving to St Louis in 1888, she worked at a laundry and became a part of the community.  She learned about haircare from her brothers who were barbers. She became an agent for Annie Malone, who owned a company that catered to African American hair care.  Walker would later become Malone’s biggest rival.

Walker moved to Denver in 1905 to sell Malone’s products and start to create her own.  She met and married Charles Walker. She began selling her products door to door, and her market grew to the point where she could hire other people to sell them for her.  She opened a college where she taught other women how to take care of their hair. She also opened a manufacturing plant to make her products.  She created a method of grooming that helped promote healthy hair and scalps. Her goal was to teach women how to live better.

She became a millionaire and her products were sold all across the US and the Caribbean. She supported organizations like the YMCA and scholarships for education of African Americans. She tried to fulfill a need in the community.

In this image it spoke to a woman who was able to be where she was. It did not limit her.