Though we’ve been focused on fashion pioneers in the industry, we know that hair and beauty is just as important to any look!
So, today, our focus shifts to haircare pioneer and innovator Madam C.J. Walker.
Madam Walker was the first self made female millionaire in America. She built her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of hair care products for black women. Her mansion, Villa Lewaro, was built in 1918 by Vertner Tandy, the Co-Founder of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Madam Walker built the mansion to stand as a tribute to the advancements of African-Americans, and to act as a pillar of inspiration for future generations. With 34 rooms, an expansive back yard and pool, Madam Walker used her home to hold social events and conferences for her legions of sales agents (according to Wikipedia, Walker trained other women to become “beauty culturists” using “The Walker System”, her method of grooming that was designed to promote hair growth and to condition the scalp through the use of her products. By 1917 the company claimed to have trained nearly 20,000 women.).
In 2018, Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, purchased Villa Lewaro, and plans to use it as a think tank, “aimed at fostering entrepreneurship among women, particularly women of color, through distance learning and on-site retreats.” (Source)
She once wrote, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground. 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.” AMEN, AMEN!
What an inspiration, no?
Who should we feature next?
*If you are in New York during New York Fashion Week, be sure to save the date for Harlem Fashion Week’s 6th annual show on Saturday, February 16th! The event goes down from 6:30-10:30pm at the Museum of the City of New York located at 1220 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10029. Get your tickets here.