Long before the beauty pioneers of today made their first dollar, Madam C.J. Walker made her first million. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, created the first line of homemade hair care products for Black women after suffering her own hair loss. And long before Mary Kay or Avon sent aspiring beauty entrepreneurs knocking door-to-door, Walker employed Black women called “beauty culturalists” to sell her product.
See, without the ideas, innovations and inventions by revolutionary Black women like Madam C.J Walker, Lyda D. Newman, Marjorie Joyner, Mary Kenner and Theora Stephens, the beauty industry would look drastically different. From hair care to personal feminine hygiene, these five women revolutionized the beauty industry before it even started.
Madam C.J. Walker
Walker is probably the most well-known of any female inventor in the beauty space. She created the first line of Black hair care products while treating her own scalp for hair loss. Her five original products were Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, Temple Salve, Tetter Salve, Vegetable Shampoo and Glossine. Taking business to a whole new level, Walker employed her own saleswomen which she called “beauty culturalists” to sell her products. Walker was ahead of her time, so as you might’ve imagined incredibly successful, becoming “the first black woman millionaire in America.”
Octavia Spencer will star as Walker in a drama based on her life on Netflix. Self Made airs March 20.