Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam CJ Walker (1867-1919)

    Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam CJ Walker (1867-1919), is celebrated as the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S., regardless of race or ethnicity. Primarily an entrepreneur, she made her fortune in hair care products designed for African-American women, founding the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, which is featured in the Innovation section of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. #blackhistorymonth #chemistry #africanamericanchemists

    Walker never got a formal chemistry education, but learned about hair care products from her barber brothers, and in her work for the Poro Company, which sold such items. Applying experience and instinct, she developed her own line of improved products, which proved very successful. As a process innovator, she developed the "Walker System" - a complete regimen of grooming routines that required her company's products for best results, and trained large cohorts of women to become "beauty culturists" to propagate her methods.

    Walker based her business out of Indianapolis, Indiana, but she is celebrated in Chicago at the MSI, and was the subject of of a 2006 play at the Goodman Theatre in the loop. 

    She also engaged in major philanthropic activities and social activism, which you can learn about here: