As a young black girl growing up in America it is rare to hear of a self-made Black millionaire and it’s even rarer to hear that this person is A BLACK WOMAN. This country was built on so many courageous entrepreneurs who stepped out on a limb, with an idea and a drive to make that idea a success. Without a doubt, Madam C.J. Walker is one of this countries greatest entrepreneurs to do it and of course, she is one of my biggest influences. As a hairstylist, the fact that she is a fundamental part of the beauty world’s history is just the icing on the cake. Before I decided to fully commit myself to all things hair, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In high school, I was in an entrepreneur organization and put together a business plan and pitch for my own hair company for one of my state’s big business competitions, in which I was one of the top presenters from my area. I went on to college and decided to major in Entrepeuerniship and though after 3 years changed my major, I always knew being my own boss, carving out my own pathway to success, and creating a legacy of my own is what I was meant to do.
“All that Madam C.J. Walker was and All that today’s woman aspires to be”
I was no stranger to the common Black History facts we all learned in school about Madam C.J. Walker but as I got older something in me wanted to know more. The more I researched, the more enamored I was by her legacy and it inspired me to go harder, be greater, and really dedicate myself to my hair career. Being the inspiration that she was to my life and career choice, when I heard that there was going to be a new hair care line launching exclusively at Sephora called Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture. I was skeptical, I mean really throwing my best side eye emoji at the whole situation. I just knew somebody who knew little to nothing about her and could care less about her legacy was trying to swoop in and capitalize on her name. But as a grown woman, I can say when I am wrong and boy was I wrong!
” When they approached me a couple of years ago, it was clear that we shared a similar vision about Madam Walker, about what she meant historically and about what she could mean to a new generation in the 21st century.” ~ A’Lelia Bundles
As I researched I found that Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture is a hair care line that is seeking to incorporate all that she has accomplished for the beauty world as well as all the steps she took to empower all women to be successful in their own right. The fact that they are working closely with her great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, who is also Madam Walker’s historian and biographer is so amazing to me. We all know books, tv shows, and companies that take a person’s life and influences to build a brand without taking the proper steps to truly involve those that knew the person best and I am so pleased to know that isn’t the case with the Beauty Culture brand. But, I still wanted to know how deep the integration of her ideas and principles ran in this hair care line.
I would be remised if I didn’t take a moment to say what it means to me that I was able to interview the great-great-granddaughter of one of my biggest influences and during Woman’s History Month at that. I have never felt more connected to my history, culture, and in turn even more connected to my passion and purpose. I am truly having a fan girl moment as I write this but I am going to try and pull it together for you guys and finish this story wth the respect that Madam C.J. Walker deserves. So as I reeled it in my thoughts shifted back to the incorporation of Madam Walker’s legacy into the new Beauty Culture line. I wondered what inspired the name. A’Lelia told me, ” ‘Culture’ can have multiple meanings. It can refer both to the cultivation of beauty and hair as well as to our culture and creativity as people of color.” The people behind the brands development at Sundial also explained, “All credit for the name of this line is due to Madam C.J. Walker herself, as the name is a direct tribute to Madam Walker and the legacy she built. In addition to manufacturing hair care products, she developed the ‘Madam C.J. Walker Schools of Beauty Culture’ which graduated skilled ‘Beauty Culturists’ and Walker Agents and encouraged them to go into business to earn a better living and in turn, to become civic and charitable leaders in their communities.” One thing’s for sure, Madam Walker’s goals for women empowerment still ring true in this brand. These themes and more are intricately weaved throughout the brand and all its messaging, especially in their super cute video on the MCJWBeautyCulture.com homepage.
We all know that hair care products and brands geared towards our hair textures are popping up left and right trying to get a piece of that natural hair community coin, and though I admired their incorporation of Madam Walker’s ideals I couldn’t help but wonder, were they just trying to hop on that bandwagon. So I had to ask, why now?
“The void that we are filling with Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture and the elevation of Madam C.J. Walker are long overdue. When we think of beauty influencers like Coco Chanel, Estee Lauder, Helena Rubinstein, Mary Kay and others, we should also be thinking about Madam C.J. Walker. Her accomplishments have earned her a place right next to other beauty pioneers whose legacies are still being celebrated – both in history books and on-shelf. This has been almost a decade endeavor for us – from when we first thought that honoring her legacy in this way was possible to now introducing this brand to a new generation in a way that is worthy of Madam Walker, in a way that elevates her legacy to one that is honored by all and in a way that addresses the critical needs of our time as she addressed the critical needs of hers.”
At this point, the more I hear from Madam C.J. Walker’s great-great-granddaughter the more my heart is swooning for what this means for the black woman, black history, and black women’s hair care regimen. My remaining thoughts on the brand immediately go to the products and how closely they may be related to Madam Walker’s original products and ingredients. A’Lelia explains, “Madam Walker’s first two products –Vegetable Shampoo and Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower – both included coconut oil. That same ingredient is in the Frizz Fighting Coconut and Moringa Oils Collection. Today’s Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture line builds upon her insistence that her products be made of the highest quality ingredients. Her mission was to address the needs of her customers with the best science and knowledge available at the time.” She went on to explain,
“There is something for every hair texture and that Madam Walker’s focus on healthy hair is embodied in all the collections.”
Madam C.J. Walker is an extraordinary woman in every sense of the word. Not only did she revolutionize the beauty world and it’s selling process she was a huge philanthropist who used her fortune to finance her activism. Reflecting on her favorite discoveries of her great-great-grandmother’s legacy A’Lelia shares, “It’s inspirational, of course, that she was a pioneer of the modern hair care industry and that she became a millionaire, but I think what I value most is knowing that she used her wealth and her influence to help thousands of women become economically independent. It’s important to me that she was a patron of the arts, a philanthropist who provided scholarships for dozens of black students and a social activist who contributed thousands of dollars to the NAACP’s anti-lynching fund.”
After learning even more inspiring facts about Madam Walker from her historian and how those ideals are thoroughly incorporated into Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture brand I am without a doubt overjoyed these products have hit the shelves. Not to mention the fact that they are utilizing some groundbreaking new ingredients and formulas to promote healthy hair for all hair types and textures. I’m most impressed with the fact they didn’t just gear their products towards the natural hair community because it’s a trendy thing to do these days. The inclusion of products for relaxed or straightened hair is equally important to them because healthy hair is what Madam Walker wanted us to be able to attain no matter your desired hairstyle. By now you know my love for her and what she’s done not only for the beauty world but for our culture. We simply couldn’t have a better example of how to lift as we climb then what we have in the lifetime accomplishments of Madam C.J. Walker. I honestly feel at ease knowing her legacy lives on through Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture for other black women young and old to be inspired as I have been inspired by most my life.