Madam C.J. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower”
Photo: This tin for Madam C. J. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower” was a product of entrepreneur Madame C. J. Walker’s hair care line. Gift from Dawn Simon Spears and Alvin Spears, Sr., Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker was first exposed to the hair care business as a commission agent in St. Louis, Illinois selling products for Annie Turnbo (later Malone), an African American hair care entrepreneur & owner of the Poro Company. After experimenting with her own ingredients, she began marketing her products across the country. Her philosophy of “hair culture” grew to high demand among African Americans.
In 1911, she incorporated the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company and began recruiting sales agents in major cities across the nation. Her efforts led to the creation of the Natural Beauty Culturalists and Benevolent Association of Madam C.J. Walker Agents (later the Madam C.J. Walker Hair Culturists Union of America) and the National Negro Cosmetics Manufacturers Association in 1917. Walker’s efforts provided African American women steady employment as well as a career they and their communities could find pride in.