I'm Sarah Breedlove, born in 1867 to freed slaves, orphaned in 1874, a washerwoman and servant until I married at the age of 14, and widowed at the age of 19 with a child, Leila. That's a lot for a 19 year old?
We moved to St. Louis so I could be a laundress for another 17 years. Then, my hair began to fall out in my 30's, and I created a concoction with ingredients from Africa. From old mouth-to-hand recipes, I experimented and refined the formulas and soon I had new hair and the beginnings of a new life.
I moved to Denver for a better opportunity to sell my new products and arrived in 1905 with only $1.05 in my pocket, but with a trunkful of products designed for African American hair and skin.
"Wonderful Hair Grower, Glossine, and Vegetable Shampoo were well accepted by the African-American women of Denver. By 1906, C. J. Walker moved to Denver and the two soon married."*2
From then on I was known as "Madame C.J.Walker Preparations". Mr. Walker was a great help for a while, and then we separated. My business and my ambition continued to grow. Again, I had to take care of my family.
The women who sold my products were trained in to be professional LADY consultants, how to administer the products, and of course--sell them.
I continued to build my business, filled needs in the market, promoted women's self reliance, and to expand. In 1908 I established a beauty college to teach women the use of all my preparations. We created a national sales force of women personally selling my products. I had traveling agents also teach them how to set up beauty shops in their homes and create businesses of their own.
There is much more to my story, my headquarters in Harlem, the new plant in Indianapolis, my activist years. Yes, I was a force to be reckoned with!
"I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!"1
Madame C.J.Walker, today, is credited with being the first African American woman millionaire. Much of her profits had been given to worthy causes.
This--all because my hair fell out---and I was tired of washing other-peoples' clothes.
P.S. My formulas are still available in the marketplace to day---found on something called 'Google'.
Doll: an early Nikki
Dress: Vintage Toni dress (she has added stuffing material to fit this)
Black skirt: new fabric
Hat: unknown vintage
Gloves: Mattel High Society
Cosmetics: assorted vintage Mattel
Victorian cutouts -unknown source.
1-A'Lelia Perry Bundles, Madam C. J. Walker: Entrepreneur (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1991), 105.2 National Park Service - https://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/walker/WAfacts1.html