05 Mar

There are lots of women in history I respect. But Madam CJ Walker is someone I wish I could have dinner with today. Here is a link for more detailed information about Mrs. Walker but suffice it to say, she was extraordinary from the time she was a kid. Her family, former slaves turned share croppers, left six siblings ophaned when CJ was only 7. Married at 14 years old to escape an abusive living situation she toiled the next 20 years to escape poverty. Inspired by the success and education other black men and women she met in her church, it was 1904 when she became a sales agent for black women’s hair products and her life changed. After selling products, then came the mail order business for hair products. She eventually was building factories and employing 40,000 African American men and women.      

Someone else would have to cook our dinner (I’m not a great cook) but I would make an effort to do my hair for the event.  Meeting a woman who built an empire on hair products, it seems only respectful to do so. Over dinner, there’s lots I’d want to learn. I’d ask her what kept her from quitting when things got hard? I’d ask, who did she trust when she needed good counsel? I’d want to know what advice she’d give kids and teens today about starting their own business?      

What would I tell her about? Well, a lot has changed since Mrs. Walker passed in 1919. She never lived thru the second WW, the moon landing, nor the birth and growth of the internet. Maybe she’d want to know about hair products today. She might be happy to learn of the industry’s embrace of more natural and organic products. I don’t know. But I bet she would tell me life felt incredibly hard between the ages of 7-14. But the best was yet to come for her. And kids should never give up.

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