It is no secret that black hair is important to the Black Woman. Over generations, black hair has been viewed as the crown to opportunity and the open door acceptance in the corporate world. Decades later, the definition of “good hair” has shifted from the long permed strands to the curly afro. Whether a woman decides to wear her hair straight, curly, braided or extensions, black women proudly rocks their hairstyle while dominating the business world.
Speaking of professional dominance, this article is all about America’s first woman millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker. Madame C.J. Walker is no stranger to history books and we know her contribution has been the staple of black beauty. But before I get too much into my opinion, let’s talk about the movie.
Madame C.J. Walker’s road to success was dissected into a 4-part series on Netflix. Each episode quickly highlighted the high and low roads to her success. In the first episode, it started with Madame C.J. Walker indicating all of her success started with a dream. She introduced herself as Sarah Breedlove, a laundry washer in St. Louis. She exclaimed to her audience at the market how she was downtrodden until she was introduced to Addie Monroe’s Magical Hair Grower. With this new product, her hair grew back which led her to the man of her dreams, C.J. Walker.
Addie Monroe met Sarah at her lowest and promised to grow her hair in exchange for Sarah’s laundry service. Feeling encouraged, Sarah wanted to join Addie’s team to sell the product. Addie declined Sarah’s request cordially until Sarah admitted to taking some of the products to prove she could sell it. Even when Sarah proved she could sell the product Addie was infuriated she stole the product and mocked her skin color. Sarah knew she couldn’t compete with her in St. Louis and her family packed their bags and moved to Indianapolis.
While in Indianapolis she opened a salon at her Father-In-Law’s home. She also sold products out of the salon and was making a name for herself until Addie came waltzing until town. Even with Addie’s antics, she could not compete with Sarah. Matter of fact while Sarah was reading Addie her rights, she reinvented herself as Madame that later transitioned to Madame C.J. Walker. Shortly after confronting Addie, the salon caught on fire and Madame decided to dream bigger and build a factory. The more successful she became, the more her husband started to feel emasculated. He felt left in the background as his wife’s rise to riches became more of a priority to her than their marriage. Unable to handle his wife’s success, he ran into the arms of another woman, which later led to their divorce.
After the divorce, Madame and her daughter moved to New York where her brand grew beyond her wildest dreams. Or maybe not because Madame was a big dreamer. Learning she had kidney failure she hosted a large convention for all 10,000 of her employees. Her dream of building generational wealth for her daughter came true and she became the height of inspiration for all the black women coming up behind her.
My Point of View
This mini-series was so encouraging and uplifting. Madame had to cross over prejudices against the black woman, black male chauvinists, and cross-racial barriers. She built it all from nothing…well…someone else’s work. Yes, Madame did steal Addie’s formula but she grew beyond what Addie could. Even when Addie wanted to expose her, Madame reminded her of the impact the product had on black people. She mentioned she wanted her and Addie to grow the business together but Addie was too stuck on skin color to see the vision.
Madame C.J. Walker was a grand example of growing a tree from a mere seed. She thought like a businesswoman from the very start. For instance, when her salon lacked customers, she had her daughter go downstairs and get supplies as if customers were walking into the door. Black women were doing their hair at home and did not even fathom paying for someone for the sake of beauty. Nowadays, beauty is an item that is penciled in our budgets because we take pride in looking good. Madame C.J. Walker did that for us. She might not have invented the products but she invented the lifestyle.
Have you seen the movie? If so what were your thoughts?