Hard-Hitting Madam CJ Walker Quotes

madam cj walker quotes

“It’ pretty hard for the Lord to guide you if you haven’t made up your mind which way to go.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

Watching the new Netflix limited series “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” inspired me to write this post with Walker’s quotes. Going from a wash lady to a millionaire, she had to overcome plenty of obstacles as you can imagine.

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Madam CJ Walker Quotes

If you don’t know who Madam C.J. Walker was, here’s a short rundown of this incredible icon.

Madam C. J. Walker was born on December 23, 1867. She was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, political and social activist. Her real name was Sarah Breedlove but she became known as Madam C. J. Walker when she married Charles Joseph Walker, a newspaper advertising salesman, in 1906.

But before that, she and her daughter moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where three of her brothers lived. She found work as a laundress, earning barely more than a dollar a day. Sarah was determined to make enough money to provide her daughter with formal education.

During that time, Madam Walker suffered from severe dandruff and baldness, caused by, among other things, by using harsh products such as lye, that were included in soaps to cleanse hair and wash clothes.

Walker owned several cars including a Ford Model T and a Waverly, an electric car manufactured in Indianapolis not far from her home. She had a full-time chauffeur but preferred driving the Waverly for personal excursions. They were marketed to women—especially wealthy women as a more elegant alternative to noisier gasoline-powered automobiles. (We are going back to square one with electrical cars I guess!)

Madam C.J. Walker

Walker became a sales agent for Annie Malone, an African-American hair-care entrepreneur. Malone would become her archnemesis and the Netflix TV show plays really nicely into it. In July 1905, when she was 37 years old, Sarah and her daughter moved to Denver, Colorado, where she continued to sell products for Malone and develop her own hair-care business.

She marketed herself as an independent hairdresser and retailer of cosmetic creams. Sarah adopted “Madam” from women pioneers of the French beauty industry. Her husband, who was also her business partner, provided advice on advertising and promotion; Sarah sold her products door to door, teaching other black women how to groom and style their hair.

In 1908, Walker and her husband moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they opened a beauty parlor and established Lelia College to train “hair culturists.” As an advocate of black women’s economic independence, she opened training programs in the “Walker System” for her national network of licensed sales agents who earned healthy commission.

In 1910, Walker relocated her businesses to Indianapolis, where she established the headquarters for the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She initially purchased a house and factory at 640 North West Street. Walker later built a factory, hair salon, and beauty school to train her sales agents, and added a laboratory to help with research.

Photo by Jim Henderson

Between 1911 and 1919, during the height of her career, Walker and her company employed several thousand women as sales agents for its products. By 1917 the company trained nearly 20,000 women!

Walker died on May 25, 1919, at the age of 51. Walker’s name became even more widely known by the 1920s, after her death, as her company’s business market expanded beyond the United States to Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Panama, and Costa Rica.

Did Madam CJ Walker go to college?

Madam CJ Walker did not go to college but she did establish Lelia College to train “hair culturists”

What is Madam CJ Walker most famous for?

Madam CJ Walker is most famous for being the first female self-made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World Records

Why/how did Madam CJ Walker die?

Walker died on May 25, 1919, from kidney failure and complications of hypertension, at the age of 51

What did Madam CJ Walker invent?

Contrary to legend, Madam Walker didn’t invent the hot comb.

Who really invented the hot comb?

Elroy J. Duncan is believed to have invented and manufactured the first hot comb or heated metal straightening comb in America. Sometimes the device is called a “pressing comb.

What is the Walker system?

Walker’s company had trained some 40,000 “Walker Agents” at an ever-expanding number of hair-culture colleges she founded or set up through already established black institutions. And there was a whole “Walker System” for them to learn, from vegetable shampoos to cold creams, witch hazel, diets and those controversial hot combs.

Who was Madam CJ Walker’s daughter?

A’Lelia Walker (June 6, 1885 – August 17, 1931) was an American businesswoman and patron of the arts. She was the only surviving child of Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“I have made it possible for many colored women to abandon the wash-tub for more pleasant and profitable occupation”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“Love’s language is imprecise, fits more like mittens than gloves.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“My object in life is not simply to make money for myself”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

“I am not ashamed of my humble beginning”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“It’ pretty hard for the Lord to guide you if you haven’t made up your mind which way to go.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“There would be no hair growing business today had I not started it.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

“I want you to understand that your first duty is to humanity.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“Keep in mind that you have something that the person standing before you really needs, imagine yourself a missionary and convert him”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“Open Your Own Shop; Secure Prosperity and Freedom”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“I got my start by giving myself a start.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

“Girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavour and, by patient industry, close economy, determined effort, and close application to business, wring success out of a number of business opportunities that lie at their doors”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“America doesn’t respect anything but money. What our people need is a few millionaires.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

“If I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Madam CJ Walker Quotes

“One can slide between poor and rich”
― Madam C.J. Walker

Tell me, did you watch the Netflix show about Madam Walker? Did you like it? Did you feel inspired?

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