Sarah Walker

WALKER, Sarah, née Breedlove, African-American entrepreneur, 1867-1919. Sarah saw the need for black women to smarten their appearance. In 1905, she developed a hair product that would straighten and groom  frizzy hair. But it took 5 years to convince the black community that they needed such products. Sarah then started production out of her home, and went on to market a range of hair and cosmetic treatments for Afro-American women nationwide. Also she set up a number of beauty salons in Harlem, New York, which did prove successful. Her trading name was Madam C.J.Walker, and her company made full use of the permanent wave machine invention of an employee, Marjorie JOYNER, the patent was filed in the name of Walker since the development work was conducted at her business premises.  Sarah Walker was determined to succeed, she even sold her products from door to door (via Walker’s Agents) and home appointments for hair treatment were common. She eventually employed 3,000 staff  for a niche market. From being an orphan, and later a washerwoman, to America’s first black millionaire. Sarah was philanthropic with her fortune, a supporter of the NAACP and the like. Although the employee Joyner got no royalties from the invention, Walker made sure that Joyner had high status and income within the company.

Entrepreneur

Inventor

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