Thursday, February 21, 2019

Black History: Madame C.J.Walker Preparations

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!"

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 -

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  1. Very interesting...The doll is a cutie!Hugs!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Maristella,...I have her stuffed a lot to look matronly. Grins!

  2. Thanks ---- fascinating --- I have never heard of her. Love the vignettes!

    1. Thanks Mary, I appeared in a Reader's Theatre group on Women's History, and CJ was one of our characters. There is so much more to her story!

  3. This was a fascinating story of a courageous and inspirational Woman! I just love to hear these success stories and of people who persevered and made a positive impact regardless of challenges being monumental in their lives!

  4. Thank you, Ms. Magle, for featuring Madam C. J. Walker. Your readers who would like to learn more might be interested in knowing that her life will be featured in a four-part Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer in early 2020. It is based on my book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.

    1. Dear Ms A'Lelia, how rewarding to have a book you have written become a series. How exciting. I first encountered CJ...back in the early 1980's when in American Association of Women. We wanted to raise money for scholarships, and developed two scripts for performing reader's theatre on women's history, and Sarah was one of our characters, as was Phillis Wheatley. Again, how exciting to bring to life women who accomplished so much and with many obstacles in their paths. Octavia Spencer will be perfect for the part, again, HOW EXCITING!

      I see I actually used an article of yours as a source, I hope I gave proper credit, as it's been a long time since I wrote cited papers. Thank you so much for visiting, and with your permission, I will add your information to the end of the blog. Please let me know if that will be appropriate. Sandi

  5. Such a fabulous post, Sandi! To read of the very humble beginnings of this remarkable woman and of her determination to create opportunities in her life and path her own successful way, is truly remarkable. Love the vignettes you have imagined.

    1. Thanks so much, I learned about her in the 70's. It is so great to see so much more information about her now. Thank-you for stopping by!

  6. Love this! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!


Thank you for any and all comments. I will be happy to answer any questions or comments in replies or email! HUGS!