Did You Know Who Was The First Self-Made Female Millionaire ? I didn’t until I read a great business history article online at brightknowledge.org.
( This historic article has been removed from archives as of August, 2017 )
Sarah Breedlove (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, regarded as the first self-made female millionaire in America. She was married by the age of 14.
She worked as a laundress for as little as 1 and a half dollar a day but managed to educate her only daughter.
In the early 1900’s because of the lack of plumbing, heat or electricity she would wash her hair only once a month and as a result she suffered severe dandruff and almost went completely bald.
This gave her the idea for hair care products due to the experience she had endured. After a failed marriage in 1905 she moved to Denver where she worked as a sales agent for Annie Malone, another black female entrepreneur who manufactured hair care products.
Then she consulted with a Denver pharmacist who analyzed Malone’s formula and came up with her own line of products. Then she re-married for the third time with Charles Joseph Walker and changed her name to Madam CJ Walker and founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.
By 1917, it was the largest business in the United States owned by a black person. She became an inspiration to other black women.
And fully recognizing the power of her wealth and success she than lectured to promote her business which in turn empowered other women in business.
She gave lectures on black issues at conventions sponsored by powerful institutions. In 1918 she was the keynote speaker at many National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) fund raisers for the anti-lynching effort throughout the Midwest.
Madam Walker died at the age of 51 and she was considered to be the wealthiest African-American woman in America and known to be America’s first self-made female millionaire.
Credits to brightknowledge.org for writing this great article and helping us entrepreneurs understand more about the history of business and how she has transcended her business knowledge through future generations.
If anything, the big take away for me is that regardless of circumstances or financial situation there is always a way to achieve your own success in life and/or business if you truly have the perseverance and desire to make it happen.