Players working towards a Cultural Victory should aim for Breedlove. Otherwise, skip her and save the Great Merchant Points for the next recruit.
Sarah Breedlove – better known as Madam C.J. Walker – was the first self-made female millionaire in the United States and one of the richest African-Americans in history. She was born in December 1867 to recently freed slaves on a cotton plantation near Delta, Louisiana. At the age of 14, she married one Moses McWilliams and in 1885 gave birth to a daughter; when Moses died two years later, Sarah moved on to St. Louis, where she earned enough as a washerwoman to attend night school. There too she “married” John Davis, a man of whom little is known.
During the 1890s Sarah developed a scalp disorder (perhaps due to the lye that was a standard ingredient in hair-care treatments). She began experimenting with home remedies and was hired by Annie Turnbo Malone, an African-American entrepreneur, to promote the products that Breedlove had devised and that Malone would manufacture. In 1905 Sarah moved to Denver with her daughter, where she soon married (officially) Charles J. Walker, who worked in the new, booming advertising business. Charles devised a marketing and advertising campaign under the moniker “Madam C.J. Walker” for her line of African-American hair products. In 1908 she opened a beauty school in Pittsburgh and by 1910, when the couple transferred their company to Indianapolis, the profits were soaring, annual sales being the equivalent of several million dollars.
In 1912, Sarah and Charles divorced, but it didn’t slow down Madam C.J. Walker. While she opened new markets in Latin America, her daughter A’Lelia helped purchase properties in Harlem, recognizing the potential for the New York neighborhood as a base of profit. In 1916, upon returning to the States, Sarah moved into a townhouse in Harlem to manage the company while her daughter ran the production end. Madam Walker died in 1919 at the age of 51 at her new estate in Irvington-on-Hudson.