Moment of Indiana History

Madame C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on a Delta, Louisiana plantation on December 23, 1867. The daughter of former slaves, she went on to make a fortune in the cosmetics and hair care industry, and became one of the 20th centuries’ greatest success stories.

It began with a formula to stimulate hair growth, but later developed into a full line of hair care products and cosmetics for African American women. In 1910, Madam Walker settled in Indianapolis after traveling the Deep South promoting her products. She founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company and built a factory that would remain in Indianapolis for the next seven decades.

At the time, the opportunities for African American women were limited to jobs like laundress, domestic servant, or manual laborer. Madame C.J. Walker offered these women careers as beauty culturists and sales agents. Her success was driven by her desire to give employees and customers the means for self-improvement and personal success.

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