For Women’s History Month, Boyfriend is highlighting women who have made monumental moves in the beauty industry, and we’re kicking it off this week with Madam C.J. Walker.
Madam C.J. Walker (1867 - 1919) was an entrepreneur and activist, who advocated for the advancement of African Americans. Growing up in poverty, Walker had rough beginnings, but through perseverance and the success of her haircare line, became one of America’s first female self-made millionaires.
After being frustrated by the beauty industry’s lack of products for textured hair like hers, she was inspired to create her own line of products targeting the unique needs of African American women. Not only did she see a gap in the industry, but took it upon herself to venture out and find her own solution. When door-to-door sales tactics were only just emerging, she was one of the first to travel by foot, showcasing her products and giving demos to anyone who wanted one. At a time when marketing plans were unheard of, Walker propelled her business by creating robust marketing plans all on her own. Her resilience, confidence, and forward thinking approach to business all contributed to her success and the beginning of the millionaire revolution.
We’re not only inspired by Madam C.J. Walker because of her contribution to the beauty industry, but also because of her commitment to charities and the advancement of the African American community and women. She donated much of her fortune to charities such as the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women. Madam C.J. Walker is an icon who made history and paved the way for other women, like Kate Walsh, to make their mark in the beauty industry.