Born Sarah Breedlove Walker on December 23, 1867, Madam C.J. Walker became the first African-American female millionaire in America. Not only did she financially stabilize herself with her hair straightening treatment and salon system, which helped other African-Americans to achieve greatness, but she also was instrumental in working to end lynching and pushing for communal support on women’s rights.
Like women of her time, Walker experiences a large amount of hair loss. Hair care was hard, due to the fact that most Americans lacked indoor plumbing, central heating, and didn’t possess the time to bath and wash their hair. Several women began to develop scalp diseases. Sarah experimented with products in her home and items in the market and developed a shampoo and ointment with sulfur that helped stimulate the scalp and made it healthier for hair growth. She traveled with her husband across the south and east coast to sell her products door-to-door. In 1908, they settled in Pittsburgh and opened Lelia College, an institute ran by her daughter A’Lelia Walker,where they trained individuals in hair care and taught them about entrepreneurship. In 1910, Walker moved to Indianapolis and established her headquarters and factory there.