Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is a beautiful new hardback that’s perfect for little hands and is written in a simple engaging narrative that both young and not-so-young readers will love.

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business
Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is beautifully illustrated by Salini Perera

 

The inspiring new book based on the life of America’s first self-made millionaire, launches ahead of a new Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer and produced by LeBron James.

Described as a work of historical fiction, the writers of Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business have filled in the blanks in a very positive way on Sarah Breedlove Walker’s journey to becoming America’s first self-made millionaire. Brought to life with original artwork by Salini Perera, this is the inspirational story of a woman who defeated the odds to found a beauty business whose products still dominate the Black hair care industry today.

Born on a plantation in Louisiana, in 1867, Sarah was the first member of her family to be born free and attend school. As a child, she learned the value of hard work, cooking, cleaning and picking cotton. However, by the age of eight she was an orphan; by 14, a wife; by 18, a mother, and by 20 a widow. When stress caused Sarah’s hair to fall out, she invented a recipe to encourage her hair to grow back and, in doing so, launched a natural hair care business that would change the Black beauty industry forever.

“It’s not a straightener, is it?” she asked. “I like my hair kinky.”

At first, no one took her seriously enough to buy her products. So Sarah rebranded herself as ‘Madam C.J. Walker’, a high society businesswoman with the authority and know-how to help Black women with their hair. As Madam C.J. Walker, she built a business empire, dominated the Black hair care market, and offered opportunities to poor women in her community to have a path to financial freedom.

This is the story of a leader in the hair care industry, now a multibillion-dollar industry. It is also a tale highlighting the importance of empowering women to become economically independent and to use their influence to make positive change. As Madam C.J. Walker said herself: “I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavour to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business

Written in short chapters, this is sure to be a favourite reading book, particularly with its positive messaging. We love this excerpt: “Many companies claimed to make products that grew black women’s hair, but none of them really worked. And Sarah had had enough of being told she would be beautiful if she looked like a white woman.

“It’s not a straightener, is it?” she asked. “I like my hair kinky.”

This book joins the many affirmative books centred on celebrating Black girl’s hair and we love the entrepreneurial theme, lessons about the hard work, creativity, and determination that it takes to translate a vision into a reality. The book also features an afterword on Madam C.J. Walker’s lasting legacy today, as well as exercises and challenges that help young readers to start thinking about their own future in entrepreneurship.

Buy this book for a young reader today, but only give it to them after you have read it yourself, cover to cover. Thank us later.

Madam C.J. Walker’s story is also available as a Rebel Girls podcast.


Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is published by Rebel Girls in hardback on 12 November 2019 and is available here.

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