Women’s History Month

Madame C.J. Walker 


Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker 

Madame C. J. Walker was a civil rights activist, philanthropist, entrepreneur and feminist. She was born as Sarah Breedlove on Dec. 23, 1867.   

Walker had a hard life growing up and was forced to move around and work hard as an extremely poor young girl. After her first husband died, Walker moved with her daughter to St. Louis, Missouri, and even though she was barely literate, Walker always wanted more for herself and her daughter.

 It was when she was in her late 30s that she began to deal with hair loss because of the tremendous stress she was constantly under. It was said that Walker explained to family and friends that she prayed to God about her hair and growing it back, and that she had a dream that gave her a formula for a new hair product that would grow hair back quickly.

She experimented with numerous methods until she eventually developed a formula that caused her hair to grow back very quickly. She started to make that same exact formula for family and friends and started selling her formula around the Southeast with the help of her second husband, Charles J. Walker, a journalist who advertised his wife’s business.

It was then that she decided to change her name to Madame C.J. Walker for business purposes. Walker then traveled around the South and Southeast promoting her products and giving lectures, including her formula form pomade, her hair care line and how to use hot combs properly.

The formula contained a combination of scalp preparation, application of lotions, and use of iron combs that was known as the “Walker System.” 

Walker immersed herself in Harlem’s social and political culture. She founded philanthropies that included educational scholarships and donations to homes for the elderly, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Conference on Lynching, among other organizations focused on improving the lives of African-Americans. 

 Madame C.J. Walker died of hypertension on May 25, 1919 at the age of 51. Walker was sole owner of her business, which was valued at more than $1 million. Today Madame C.J. Walker is widely credited as the first African American woman to become a self-made millionaire. 

Ming Lee


Ming Lee

Ming Lee

Ming Lee was born in Detroit, Michigan, on Sept. 29, 1992, and was mostly reared by her father and her adopted grandmother.  

Starting out as a young girl she always knew she wanted the finer things in life. 

Ming worked plenty of odd jobs throughout high school, and after she went with her grandmother to a family reunion in Atlanta, Georgia, she went back home to Detroit and told everyone that she was determined to move there. After seeing the high life in Atlanta from the fast pace of the city, young adults living the good life and the overall financial opportunities, she made the move six months later.

At the age of 19, Ming went to college at the Aveda Beauty Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, on a full scholarship. 

While on her hustle, Lee branded the phrase “Snob Life,” and this was just the beginning of her empire. While working as a waitress Lee knew she had to do more than just make sure her bills were paid. 

After losing her father, she decided to take the advice he had given her for years, which was to do hair since she went to school for it. So she quickly decided that she needed to get a job as a beautician in a beauty salon as well. 

Lee was turned down by 42 different beauty salons within a two-year period until finally, a salon decided to give her a chance. 

Lee decided to save up for a $500 couch that she had her eyes on for quite some time. However instead of buying the, couch, she decided to invest her money in selling hair extensions. 

Lee later said that she didn’t think vending hair extensions would be the beginning of her fortune. While she was selling hair extensions, Lee decided to get a large number of business cards made. She would then take 80-100 cards a day with her and would not go home until she gave out every single card. 

She then opened her first salon in July 2013 at the age of 21 called “Snob Life Studio” in downtown Atlanta. Gaining major clients in the Atlanta area, she began to do a lot of celebrities’ hair as well.

Not only was she a master hair stylist but she became a prominent distributor of extensions in the industry. Lee started a full line of hair care products, including edge control, shampoos, conditioners, hair grease for hair growth, and several other products. 

She recently released the first part of her documentary called “It Was All a Dream” for others seeking entrepreneurship. She also plans on coming out with her first book, which will be titled Werk Girl

As if that’s not enough, Lee is also a huge believer in supporting her community and “giving back”. 

Aside from her many philanthropic efforts, she felt that it was extremely important to document her journey and share some of her experiences in an effort to encourage others to pursue and achieve their dreams.