Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business

Rebel Girls, Jestine Ware, Salini Perera

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business
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Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business

Rebel Girls, Jestine Ware, Salini Perera

In Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business, Sarah Breedlove (AKA Madam C.J. Walker) reinvents and rebrands herself as a forceful entrepreneur whose products still dominate the black hair care industry today. 

Born on the same plantation where her parents were once enslaved – Sarah is the first child in her family born free. When Sarah is just a girl, she learns the value of hard work. She cooks, she cleans, she picks cotton, she does laundry, and she babysits. By fourteen, Sarah is a wife and by eighteen she is a mother. From the stress of backbreaking labor and having to grow up so quickly, Sarah’s hair begins to fall out! Instead of falling into despair, Sarah learns how to take care of her hair and invents her own recipe to encourage her hair to grow. 

But Sarah has a problem. She can’t get people to buy her products at first. So, she rebrands herself as  Madam C.J. Walker,  a fancy high society lady with the authority and know-how to help black women with their hair. As Madam C.J. Walker, she builds a business empire, dominates the black hair care market with her natural products, and offers opportunities for other poor washerwomen in her community to have a path to financial freedom. With her immense wealth, she treats herself too. She buys herself cars, fancy dresses, and a mansion with 34 rooms! 

This is the story of a leader in the hair care industry, which is now a multibillion-dollar industry, but it’s also a tale of the importance of empowering women to become economically independent. After Words includes text on Madam C.J. Walker’s lasting legacy today as well as educational activities on entrepreneurship.

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