Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was the first Black female millionaire in America. She made her fortune by creating a homemade line of hair care products for Black women. Born Sarah Breedlove, she was inspired to create hair products after experiencing a scalp disorder and hair loss. It led to the creation of the Walker system of hair care. She built an empire selling products directly to Black women, then employing others to sell them. She used her fortune to fund scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated to the NAACP, the Black YMCA, and other charities. In fact, Netflix’s historical drama Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker gives insight into her
Annie Turnbo Malone
While Madam C.J. Walker may be known as the first Black female millionaire, she didn’t get there without the likes of her employer Annie Turnbo Malone, who was also a millionaire. Her contributions to the hair care industry have been overshadowed by Walker’s success. Malone was a chemist and entrepreneur. She developed a hair product to straighten African American women’s hair without damaging it, and eventually created a line of hair care and beauty products. She and her assistants sold the products door to door giving demonstrations before business took off after the World Fair in 1904. Malone established Poro College, a cosmetology school and training center in St. Louis in 1918. She had thirty-two branches of the school throughout the country in the mid-50s.