Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 on a Louisiana plantation,Walker transformed herself from an uneducated farm worker of the twentieth century's most successful, self-made women entrepreneurs. Orphaned at age seven, she often said, "I got my start by giving myself a start." She and her older sister, Louvenia, survived by working in the cotton fields of Vicksburg, Mississippi. At 14, she married Moses McWilliams to escape abuse from her cruel brother-in-law, Jesse Powell. During the 1890s, Sarah began to suffer from a scalp ailment that caused her to lose most of her hair. She experimented with many homemade remedies and store-bought products, including those made by Annie Malone, another black woman entrepreneur. In 1905 Sarah moved to Denver as a sales agent for Malone, then married her third husband, Charles Joseph Walker, a St. Louis newspaperman. After changing her name to "Madam" C. J. Walker, she founded her own business and began selling Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula, which she claimed had been revealed to her in a dream. To promote her products, Madam C.J. Walker traveled for a year and a half on a crusade throughout the heavily black South and Southeast, selling her products door to door, She demonstrated her scalp treatments in churches and lodges. In 1908, she temporarily moved her base to Pittsburgh where she opened Lelia College.
In 1913, while Walker traveled to Central America and the Caribbean to expand her business, her daughter A'Lelia, moved into a fabulous new Harlem townhouse and Walker Salon, designed by black architect, Vertner Tandy. Walker herself moved to New York in 1916. She left the operations of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company in Indianapolis to Ransom and Alice Kelly, her factory forelady and a former school teacher. She continued to oversee the business and to run the New York office. Once in Harlem, she quickly became involved in Harlem's...
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