March, Women's History Month, is a great time to look at three African American ladies who identified specific community needs, created some valuable services, and then prospered financially from their cutting edge innovation.
Madame C.J. Walker, (1867-1919), was one of the first American women to become a millionaire. Walker was also the first African American female millionaire.
She created an original formula for straightening hair. Her hair ointment became an overwhelming overnight success.
With just $2, the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company was born in Indianapolis, Indiana (1910). At its zenith, the Walker business empire directly employed 5,000 black women in schools, salons, laboratories, and factories.
Madame Sara S. Washington, (1881-1953), was also a pioneering African American entrepreneur. She too became a millionaire by providing cosmetic and beauty products targeted toward black women.
The Buckley, Virginia native launched her first beauty shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1920, Washington manufactured hair care and beauty preparations under the name of Apex Hair Products. She also founded various Apex Beauty Colleges.
Oprah Winfrey's gateway to success: mass media, communications, and entertainment.
Oprah was Nashville, Tennessee's first African American television correspondent in 1973. By 1978, she was co-hosting a local talk show in Baltimore, Maryland.
After a year in the Windy City hosting A.M Chicago on WLS-TV, the program was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985.
In 1988, she launched Harpo Productions, the creative center of her many entrepreneurial activities.
In the black history timeline...
- Madame C.J. Walker
- Madame Sara S. Washington
- Oprah Winfrey
are three creative African American women who have personally reaped big financial benefits because of their direct and indirect involvement in doing something positive for their communities.