Sarah Breedlove Walker


vision of beautyWe continue our study of the fifty states. This week we are studying the state whose name means “land of the Indians”, Indiana.  In the process we stumbled on a real treasure in the way of a book.  It is entitled “Vision of Beauty”.  It is the story of Sarah Breedlove Walker.  I admittedly had never heard of her before diving into our Indiana books.    Breedlove lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  She was the Oprah Winfrey of her day.  She grew up extremely poor.  Her parents had been slaves and were freed two years before she was born.  At age seven she lost both her parents to yellow fever.  She and her siblings moved to a bigger town to find work and lived a life of poverty.  At 14 Sarah married and worked as a laundress.  Because of hard labor and poor nutrition Sarah had the reoccurring problem that her hair would fall out.  She began trying many different hair care products all devised for the hair of white women.  Many made her hair problems worse.  Sarah began researching and experimenting until she found a winning mixture.  She began going door to door demonstrating her product on African American women in their kitchens.  She then would invite them to work for her and sell her product as well.  This was the beginning of the Mme C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.  Many of her employees were able to earn equal pay to their husbands which was unheard of during this time period. The company quickly experienced wild success. Instead of advertising a picture of a white woman on the packaging Breedlove put a picture of herself.  Featuring a black woman on merchandise was simply not done.  The book continues to tell how she used her company and fortune to better the lives of African Americans.  It is always inspirational to read of individuals that rose above adversity. However, there is no shortage of those books. What really impressed me about this book was how the author points out to the reader how she devised a business plan and ingeniously marketed her product and launched her company.  Head to the library or Amazon!