Business and Finance

Black Entrepreneur Legend and Haircare Pioneer


6 min learn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their very own.


Another has come and gone, however per the findings of a new research commissioned by Groupon and the National Black Chamber of Commerce: Educating ourselves on the adversity African Americans have at all times confronted within the office MUST be a 12 months lengthy factor.

Depressingly, 80% of black homeowners polled acknowledged they confronted extra challenges getting their enterprise off the bottom because of their race whereas 85% claimed they needed to overcome extra obstacles than their non-black friends. Fifty-nine p.c reported being victims of bias or racism when beginning their firm.

All the extra motive (even in March) to pay attention to the franchising savant, philanthropist and one of many nation’s first African-American feminine millionaires that was Madam C.J. Walker. She nonetheless has a lot to show us 101 years after her dying.

Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 throughout the Louisiana Delta, Walker was orphaned at a younger age and spent greater than a decade working as a washerwoman to help her younger daughter. One day she seemed down at her arms within the tub and thought: What am I going to do to help my household when I’m not capable of scrub this laundry?

This query, coupled with the truth that Walker felt her follicles have been thinning, prompted her to start working as a salesman for the hair care product , the Poro Company. Walker additionally labored as a cook dinner the place she discovered much more concerning the chemistry behind magnificence elixirs and she ultimately created her personal line of magnificence aids. 

Walker was an exceptional model builder. Her enterprise and signature “Walker Method” for hair care offered profession alternatives and financial independence for 1000’s of African American girls. Her firm educated some 40,000 “Walker Agents” in her particular product technique.

The story of Walker’s success is filled with life and management classes.


Related: This Is How You Close the Black Entrepreneurship Gap

An underprivileged background doesn’t outline you

The concept that you’re greater than your circumstances is the idea of my podcast. It is girls like Walker that encourage me to proceed to construct Code Wiz and share this message. 

Walker was born on a plantation the place her mother and father have been enslaved, and though she was free, her life was crammed with wrestle, turmoil and heartbreak. But when you consider, as Walker did, that your circumstances don’t outline your shine, you’ll be able to go after your objectives and desires with dedication and you’ll be able to create a brand new path. 

Believe in your self AND your product

The fact about enterprise is that you just WILL face uphill battles. Hearing issues like “you won’t succeed” and feeling overwhelmed by the obstacles might really feel an excessive amount of at occasions. Your personal black brothers and sisters might let you know that you just received’t succeed as a result of African Americans simply don’t make it this far. But you can’t let the phrases and actions of others diminish your perception in YOURSELF and your product. 

Walker confronted many critiques for her merchandise, together with the declare that encouraging straight hair for black girls would internalize white requirements of magnificence. But Walker knew that her imaginative and prescient of utilizing components from African origins to empower black girls to like their hair was a robust aim. She didn’t lose religion in her firm, her imaginative and prescient or herself.

Every endeavor makes you wiser

Walker labored as a laundrywoman, cook dinner, lived together with her brothers who labored as barbers, and discovered from the Poro Company earlier than promoting her well-known merchandise. 

She used these experiences to create her firm, making use of her expertise in chemistry and gross sales expertise. We can take a look at painful features of our previous as hindrances or we will see them as property. At each stage in our lives, there’s at all times one thing to be taught. 

Don’t simply construct a enterprise, construct a model

Walker didn’t simply promote hair merchandise, she bought a life-style. She created a complete model round the concept that African American girls ought to look good, really feel good and encourage themselves to create a greater life. Walker embodied her model. She put herself on the labels and used her personal images in print advertisements. She positioned herself as a ‘hair culturalist’ and empowered 1000’s of gross sales brokers to look their greatest, really feel their greatest and make a dwelling empowering different girls to do the identical.  

Related: Here’s How Black Employees at Apple and Amazon Rate Their Job Satisfaction


Leverage the love 

One of the methods Walker stood out was the way in which she pioneered the franchising mannequin. She was an excellent salesperson by turning clients into model ambassadors. Walker not solely bought girls her merchandise however she additionally leveraged the approach to life and dream of being part of her model. She educated girls on the “Walker Method” and gave money incentives to brokers who did nicely in gross sales and embodied the model.

When you’re constructing your organization, keep in mind to leverage those that already love your model. They are a robust a part of your corporation and having methods like reward applications and referral perks are an vital a part of development.

Make room on the desk

As an advocate of black girls’s financial independence, Walker opened coaching applications within the “Walker System” for her nationwide community of licensed gross sales brokers. She paid wholesome commissions and employed lots of of black girls in her firm. 

Our fortunes is not going to change if we don’t empower our tribe to additionally achieve success. Don’t overlook to be on the lookout for methods to deliver extra voices to the desk and use your success to create much more seats.

Give again 

Walker was a widely known philanthropist and we will all be impressed by her generosity. Giving again to your group and the causes which are vital to you and your organization will be finished in some ways. Having philanthropy as a part of your mission assertion means you’re creating motivation and unity inside your staff.

Walker is a real inspiration and it’s invaluable to have a look at unbelievable black girls in historical past and discover teachings from their lives and accomplishments. 

Related: Maggie Lena Walker Made History as the First Woman To Own a Bank in the United States

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