A Female Entrepreneur Your History Textbooks Won’t Tell You About
America is filled with many rags to riches stories.
In fact, if there is one thing that defines the American experience is people’s uncanny ability to confront adversity and join America’s most affluent sectors through hard work and raw grit. Madame C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, embodies this American ethos of rolling up one’s sleeves and triumphing against adversity. Walker was born on December 23, 1867, in Delta, Louisiana to a family of sharecroppers who had previously been born into slavery.
To say that Walker had humble origins would be an understatement. Due to the tense nature of racial relations in the South and the lack of opportunity in this region, Walker had to look northward for better economic prospects. In 1888, she moved to St. Louis and got a job as a laundress where she was barely making a dollar a day just to get by.
Walker was afflicted by various scalp issues such as baldness and dandruff which prompted her to get into the field of cosmetics. It also helped that her brothers were barbers in St. Louis. During her time toiling at everyday jobs, Walker still had lofty entrepreneurial aspirations of getting into hair care.
Walker caught a major break when she became a commission agent for Annie Malone, an African American entrepreneur and millionaire who struck it rich in the cosmetics field. Her time working under Malone’s Poro Company gave her valuable experience in the cosmetics sector.
She would use her knowledge to build her own products and her own company, Madam C.J Walker Manufacturing Company. Ironically, Walker’s company would end up being one of Poro Company’s fiercest competitors. An integral part of Walker’s brand was her image as an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams. The female entrepreneur started out selling her products door-to-door, while teaching women the basics of hair care.
From there, she built a sales system that would form the basis of her national network of licensed sales agents. This system played an integral role in training countless African American women to become effective salespeople while also growing more financially independent.
Walker reached the zenith of her career between 1911 and 1919. In that period, Walker’s company employed several thousand women in sales roles. By 1917, the company claimed to have trained approximately 20,000 women in grooming and sales along with other fields such as budgeting, building their own businesses, and attaining financial independence.
As a result of her hard work, Walker became the first female African American millionaire. Walker used her wealth to give back to the community. She helped fund prominent African American institutions such as the Tuskegee Institute and the NAACP. During her illustrious career, Walker built friendships and connections with the likes of other prominent entrepreneurs such as Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Walker tragically died on May 25, 1919, at the age of 51, due to kidney failure and complications connected to hypertension. When she died, Walker’s wealth was estimated to be around $10 million in present dollars, making her the wealthiest African American woman in the country at the time.
Walker’s example should be an inspiration to all. No matter the hurdles she faced, she was able to leap over them and score big entrepreneurial wins.
Remember this: To succeed, you must first struggle. It’s all part of the process. That said, your financial journey shouldn’t be a perpetual struggle. You’ll eventually burn out.
Believe me. As someone who’s been in the real estate investing game for multiple decades, I’ve seen it all. Promising investors, who put thousands of hours of work into building their portfolio, eventually throw in the towel after taking too many financial blows and sheer exhaustion.
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You should be rewarded for your hard work in the real estate world. And one of the best ways to do that is by integrating the REI Trifecta into your investing strategy.
Use technology to make your life easier by joining our webinar explaining the basics of the REI Trifecta. During this webinar, you’ll learn how to increase your cash flows and score successes in multiple markets nationwide.
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