L J Breedlove Biography & Facts
Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove; December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist. She is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World Records. Multiple sources mention that although other women might have been the first, their wealth is not as well-documented.Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women through the business she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She became known also for her philanthropy and activism. She made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts. Villa Lewaro, Walker's lavish estate in Irvington, New York, served as a social gathering place for the African-American community. At the time of her death, she was considered the wealthiest African-American businesswoman and wealthiest self-made black woman in America. Her name was a version of "Mrs. Charles Joseph Walker," after her third husband.
Sarah Breedlove was born on December 23, 1867, close to Delta, Louisiana. Her parents were Owen and Minerva (Anderson) Breedlove. She had five siblings, who included an older sister, Louvenia, and four brothers: Alexander, James, Solomon, and Owen Jr. Her older siblings were enslaved by Robert W. Burney on his Madison Parish plantation. Sarah was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Her mother died in 1872, likely from cholera (an epidemic traveled with river passengers up the Mississippi, reaching Tennessee and related areas in 1873). Her father remarried but died a year later.She was orphaned at the age of seven. Sarah moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the age of 10, where she lived with Louvenia and her brother-in-law, Jesse Powell. She started working as a child as a domestic servant.
“I had little or no opportunity when I started out in life, having been left an orphan and being without mother or father since I was seven years of age,” she often recounted. She also recounted that she had only three months of formal education, which she learned during Sunday school literacy lessons at the church she attended during her earlier years.
Marriage and family
In 1882, at the age of 14, Sarah married Moses McWilliams to escape abuse from her brother-in-law, Jesse Powell. Sarah and Moses had one daughter, Lelia McWilliams, who was born on June 6, 1885. When Moses died in 1887, Sarah was twenty and Lelia was two. Sarah remarried in 1894, but left her second husband, John Davis, around 1903.In January 1906, Sarah married Charles Joseph Walker, a newspaper advertising salesman she had known in St. Louis, Missouri. Through this marriage, she became known as Madam C. J. Walker. The couple divorced in 1912; Charles died in 1926. Lelia McWilliams adopted her stepfather's surname and became known as A'Lelia Walker.
In 1888, Madam C. J. Walker and her daughter moved to St. Louis, where three of her brothers lived. Sarah found work as a laundress, earning barely more than a dollar a day. She was determined to make enough money to provide her daughter with formal education. During the 1880s, she lived in a community where Ragtime music was developed; she sang at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church and started to yearn for an educated life as she watched the community of women at her church.As was common among black women of her era, Sarah suffered severe dandruff and other scalp ailments, including baldness, due to skin disorders and the application of harsh products to cleanse hair and wash clothes. Other contributing factors to her hair loss included poor diet, illnesses, and infrequent bathing and hair washing during a time when most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating, and electricity.
Initially, Sarah learned about hair care from her brothers, who were barbers in St. Louis. Around the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair at St. Louis in 1904), she became a commission agent selling products for Annie Malone, an African-American hair-care entrepreneur, millionaire, and owner of the Poro Company. Sales at the exposition were a disappointment since the African-American community was largely ignored.While working for Malone, who would later become Walker's largest rival in the hair-care industry, Sarah began to take her new knowledge and develop her own product line. In July 1905, when she was 37 years old, Sarah and her daughter moved to Denver, Colorado, where she continued to sell products for Malone and develop her own hair-care business. A controversy developed between Annie Malone and Sarah because Malone accused Sarah of stealing her formula, a mixture of petroleum jelly and sulfur that had been in use for a hundred years.Following her marriage to Charles Walker in 1906, Sarah became known as Madam C. J. Walker. She marketed herself as an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams. ("Madam" was adopted from women pioneers of the French beauty industry.) Her husband, who was also her business partner, provided advice on advertising and promotion; Sarah sold her products door to door, teaching other black women how to groom and style their hair.In 1906, Walker put her daughter in charge of the mail-order operation in Denver while she and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern United States to expand the business. In 1908, Walker and her husband relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they opened a beauty parlor and established Lelia College to train "hair culturists." As an advocate of black women's economic independence, she opened training programs in the "Walker System" for her national network of licensed sales agents who earned healthy commissions (Michaels, PhD. 2015).
After Walker closed the business in Denver in 1907, A'lelia ran the day-to-day operations from Pittsburgh. In 1910, Walker established a new base in Indianapolis. A'lelia also persuaded her mother to establish an office and beauty salon in New York City's growing Harlem neighborhood in 1913; it became a center of African-American culture.In 1910, Walker relocated her businesses to Indianapolis, where she established the headquarters for the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She initially purchased a house and factory at 640 North West Street. Walker later built a factory, hair salon, and beauty school to train her sales agents, and added a laboratory to help with research. She also assembled a staff that included Freeman Ransom, Robert Lee Brokenburr, Alice Kelly, and Marjorie Joyner, among others, to assist in managing the growing company. Many of her company's employees, including those in key management and staff positions, were women.
Walker's method of grooming was designed to promote hair growth and to condition the scalp through the use of her products. The system included.... Discover the L J Breedlove popular books. Find the top 100 most popular L J Breedlove books.