Madame C.J. WalkerMadame C.J. Walker

The Magical Inventor

 In 1905 Madame C.J. Walker developed a conditioning treatment for straightening hair. She started with door-to-door sales of her cosmetics, Madame C.J. Walker got a fortune off her sales. In 1910 she build a factory in Indianapolis to manufacture her life of cosmetics. Before her death in 1919 she was a millionaire, one of the most successful business executive in the early half of the twentieth century.

 One of the first American woman of any race or rank to become a millionaire through her own efforts was Sarah Breedlove Walker. Sarah Breedlove was born in 1967 to Minerva and Owen Breedlove on the shores of the Mississippi River in northeast Louisiana. Sarah's parents were both enslaves and sharecroppers who lived on the Burney plantation in Delta, Louisiana. Orphaned at the age of 6 and she was raised by her sister, Louvenia in Vicksburg, Mississippi. "Madame Walker always said in her public speeches that she was orphaned at seven." Her mother died first,and her father remarried and apparently died before she turn eight in December,1875. Because of her background she had only a limited formal education. She married to a Mr. McWilliam at fourteen,"To Get A Home," and had a daughter, A'Leilia, in 1885. She was widowed at twenty in 1887 Sarah and her daughter moved from Vicksburg to St.Louis, Missouri. For eighteen years, from 1887-1905, she supported herself and her daughter by work as a washerwoman.
Cabin near Delta, LouisianaThis is the home of Madame C.J. Walker
               The Life in St.Louis
While in St.Louis in 1905, Walker said had an idea to begin a cosmetics business when she began to lose of her hair. After a prayer for God to save her hair, she claimed that in her dream she she received a formula for a unique hair growth treatment for black women hair. Sarah developed a new treatment for treating hair. Madame Walker's treatment did not straighten hair. Her treatment was designed to heal scalp disease though more frequent shampooing. Message and the application of an ointment consisting of petrolatum and medicinal sulfur. Madame Walker did use a hot comb which she did NOT invent, but she was by no means the first person to employ such methods. In fact, Marcel Grateau a Parisian was using heated metal hair care implements as early as 1872, and hot combs were available in Sears and Blooming dale's catalogues in 1890's presumably designed for white women.
           About The Walker System
The elements of the System were a shampoo, a promade "hair-grower" vigorous brushing and the application of heated iron combs to the hair. The "methods" tranformed stubborn lusterless hair into shining smoothness. The Madame C.J. Walker manufacturing Company employed principally women who, before the years that preceded the national growth of beauty shops in the United States, carried their treatments the home, Known as "Walker Agents" they became familiar figures thought out the United States and Caribbean where they made their "house calls"always dressed in the characteristic white shirtwaist tucked into long black skirts and carrying the black satchels containing preparations and combing necessary for dressing hairing. The most important of the preparations demonstrated was Madame C.J. Walker's Hair Grower. Sales of the Pomade and collection of sixteen other beauty products many package decoratively in tin containers who carried the portrait of Madame Walker accompanied by heavy advertising in mainly Black newspapers and magazines. She had her own frequent instructional tours made Madame Walker one of the best African America woman in the country by the 1920's. Her fame spread to Europe where the Walker System of dancer Josephine Baker so fascinated Parisians in the 1920's that a French company produced a comparable promade called it Baker-Fix . In the United States the business activity of Madame Walker was emulated by other black women with successful women including Mrs. Annie M. turnbo Malone  and madame Sarah Spencer Washington. Annie Malone preceded Madame Walker's business. In fact, Madame worked for a short time in 1905 as a Malone sales agent before she started her own business.
                     ****Her Company Pictures****

Walker on the RoadThis is a picture of Madame Walker selling her product!!

IndianapolisThis is a picture of the first home of Madame Walker all at the same time it was a manufacturing plant and a beauty school located in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis FactoryThis is a picture of the Walker Manufacturing CO. Building and it is in Indianapolis. The building contains a plant theater, beauty shop, lunch room, business offices, and a drug store that was constructed in 1930 after Madame C.J. Walker died.
 Information about the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company!!!!!!!!!!

Madame C.J. Walker was encouraged by success in St.Louis selling her cosmetic products and method she moved to Denver, Colorado in 1996 to join her brother who had moved earlier. Madame Walker moved to Denver in July, 1905. She joined her widowed sister-in-law and niece who had been in Denver prior to 1900. Six months later she married a newspaperman named Charles J. Walker. She kept the name even after business differences ended the married. She still proceeded in door-to-door sales and she demonstrated her method to the woman of Denver. Madame Walker developed what was to become known as The Walker Method/The Walker System. By September 1906 she had left Denver to take care of her daughter Lelia and begun to travel throughout the South promoting her products. She also gave lectures and demonstrations of her products to homes, clubs, and churches. Her success in the increasing business saw her organize a second office in Pittsburgh in1908, which her daughter A'Lelia managed. In 1910 she transferred operation from the Denver and Pittsburg  offices to a new headquarters in Indianapolis where a plant was constructed to serve as center of the Walker enterprises. The company was the Walker College of Hair Culture and Walker Manufacturing Company. In 1906 Walker turned the mail order business to her daughter who used Pittsburgh as headquarters for Walker College for training "hair culturists". The Madame C.J. Walker Manufaturing Company headquatered in Indianapolis, Indiana which Madame Walker was president and sole owner provided employment for some three thousand people. In her factory office there were usually somewhere between fifteen and thirty employees. Her sales force, a multi-level sales operation had by her claim in1919 more than 20,000 agents. Overnight she found daughter purchased a townhouse in Harlem in 1913  and Madame Walker moved to New York in 1916. Before her death in 1919 Madame Walker count over 20,000 agents selling an ever-expanding line of Walker products and demonstrating the Walker System treating hair.
           Madame C.J.  Walker's Death

     Madame C.J. Walker was warned by physicians at the Kellogg Clinic at Battle Creek, Michigan that her hypertension required a reduction of her activities Madame Walker nevertheless continued her busy schedule. She became ill while in St. Louis and was moved back to New York  where she died on May 25, 1919 of chronic interstitial nephritis kidney failure and hypertension at the Villa Lewaro estate. Despite her impoverished beginnings Madame Walker achieved notable business success. The Funeral services were conducted at the Villa by the pastor of her church. The Mother Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of New York and she was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
       After Madame C.J. Walker's Death!

  The estate went to A'Lelia Walker Robinson Wilson. A'Lelia Walker closed "Dark Tower" a cafe/salon at her 136th street townhouse in 1928. In 1930 she was forced to auction off some of the contents of Villa Lewaro because of the Depression's impact on company sales, the cost of taxes and upkeep, and because she rarely spent time there. Shortly before she died in1919 Madame Walker pledged $5,000 to the NAACP after her daughter's death, but when A'Lelia Walker died in 1931 in the midst of the Depression the NAACP declined the house because of the upkeep of the taxes. Instead the small proceeds from the sale to Annie Poth were donated to the NAACP there. Several generations of the Walker family continue the business she established.

 To raise money for the organization during the Depression period in the 1930's the NAACP sold the Villa Lewaro in 1932 to a fraternal organization. the Companions of the forest in America. In 1950 the building housed the Annie Poth Home for the Aged. In 1979 Villa Lawaro was listed on the e National Register of Historic Places. The other properties left by the manufactures is a five-story million dollar plant in Indianapolis. The Madame C.J. Walker Manufaturing Company Building. The block-square building also houses a Greek-style theater, lunchroom, beauty palor, and private offices. The Madame Walker Building, which was completed in 1927 and is National Historic Landmark is now called the Madame Walker Theater Center. The 944-seat theater features an Egyptian and Moroccan motif. At one time it housed a restaurant, a drugstore , the Walker factory, a barber shop, and organizational and professional offices.

By: Charelle Jeffries
       The source I usedThe Life Of Madame C.J. Walker