Glamour reports that Madam C.J. Walker has launched a new hair-care line a century after she initially made history.
Madam C.J. Walker created history when she launched her hair-care company, Madam C.J. Walker Company, in 1906, becoming the first woman to become a self-made millionaire. Walker worked as a domestic servant until she was 38 years old, then went into the beauty industry with the help of other women, eventually developing her own hair-care products for Black women with textured hair. Walker took her Wonderful Hair Grower product to the streets, going door to door selling to customers and building a loyal army of saleswomen during a time when Black hair products were not accessible or marketed to Black people.
Walker’s legacy is still very much alive over a century later, with the community, model, and goods she founded seen in Black beauty brands all around the world. Walker’s historic estate was previously planned to be turned into a training center for Black women entrepreneurs, according to Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis. Not only did Netflix recently release a series about Walker’s pioneering journey, but Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis was also looking to turn Walker’s historic estate into a training center for Black women entrepreneurs. Madam by Madam C.J. Walker, her new hair-care line, is bringing her legacy full circle.
“[Madam Walker] represents this arc of a life to overcome obstacles. She was mentored by other Black women. When she finally had the chance and was in a position, she opened doors for other Black women. She was a washerwoman until she was 38. But then she invented this formula for hair care products, and realized that she was addressing a need that other women had. As she traveled around selling the products, she saw that those women were really happy to have hair-care products, but what they needed were education and economic independence. She made that as much a part of her mission as the products themselves,” Walker’s great-great granddaughter, journalist and historian A’Lelia Bundles explained.
Bundles has teamed up with Walmart to create a new accessible product line that reflects Walker’s core values and product quality, as they believe that a healthy scalp is a key to strong hair. Curl creams, leave-in conditioners, shampoos, and Walker’s distinctive scalp serums are among the 11 new products in the Madam collection. Every item in the new line is under ten dollars.
To bring the new line to life, Bundles collaborated with Sundial Brands CEO Cara Sabin, Walmart merchandising director of speciality hair Angel Beasley, and Walmart omni associate merchant Lynn Nestor. All of the women felt it was critical to concentrate their efforts on bringing Walker’s history and legacy to a new generation, as well as developing products and marketing campaigns targeted at a younger age.
“What really ties everything together is our Scalp to Strand System, which is a nod to Madam C.J. Walker and her original iconic product, the Wonderful Hair Grower. We’re targeting a younger consumer. We’re on TikTok, and there’s some really exciting content coming. But at the heart of it, we wanted to make sure that we were honoring the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker,” said Sabin.
The product formulations are entirely fresh in order to account for a century of beauty research and development, but Walker’s system’s fundamental DNA is at the foundation of everything, from products to marketing to business infrastructure. In honor of Walker, the team said they were thrilled to revive the collection in conjunction with Bundles.
“It really is an honor to be a part of relaunching, in a very accessible way, for the Walmart customer…bringing something that’s under $10, that is going to be in over 3,000 stores and also online, that is what Madam C.J. Walker was doing a hundred years ago. To be a part of that legacy in 2022 is pretty amazing,” said Beasley.
“I’ve been in this role for a few months, but this is probably the first time where I can explain to my family, very clearly, what I do. This is my impact…One of the first questions I asked Angel when she was telling me about the brand was, ‘Is the family involved?’ To see how involved A’Lelia is in all of this, and really making sure that this is Madam by Madam C.J. Walker in product and name, is an amazing thing,” Nestor added.