Madam C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919) – Black History Month

Depending on your neighbourhood, there will be a beauty salon, hairdressers or hair product shop available for you to get your must-have hair products. But where did the idea of selling black hair products on a mass scale come from? And who looked at this niche market as a means of basing a successful business on? The answer is Madam C.J. Walker.

Born on December 23rd 1867 into a family of sharecroppers, Walker was named Sarah Breedlove at birth and turned an uneducated background into a hair product dynasty that can be highly admired today. Her name which has been largely documented in history, derived from placing ‘Madam’ before her third husband’s name C.J. Walker.

In the 1890s, Walker suffered from scalp ailments so decided to create homemade remedies as well as, also using products from the Annie Malone brand – a black female entrepreneur at the time. From growing up in humble beginnings, Walker became a sales agent in 1905 for the Malone brand, after moving to Denver – the place in which she met and married her third husband.

After her name change, Walker decided to found her own business in which she sold a formula which helped heal and condition the scalp. It is said that the idea for Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower came to her by way of a dream she had and by looking at these pictures here, you can see why this product would have been so popular at this time. Some of the ingredients used in the formula had to be sent for in Africa but because of the her dream, Walker took the necessary steps to get them in her possession.

Source: www.madamcjwalker.com
Source: http://www.madamcjwalker.com

To promote her hair products, Walker travelled throughout heavily populated black areas in and sold door to door. In 1908, Walker opened the Lelia College (named after her daughter A’ Lelia) as a means of training hair culturists, to help people learn how to care for their hair. Walker hired Walker Agents to help sell her products on a wider scale and created a national association and cash incentives for them in order to instil loyalty amongst them; she also did not want to be the only one benefiting from her success.

Walker was widely acknowledged and recognised for her entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy, as she can be regarded as America’s first female, self-made millionaire.

With pinnacle women in our history such as Walker, we can pave the way for even stronger, ambitious women in the next generation.

Madam C.J. Walker…we salute you!

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Beauty Across Africa

In African cultures and traditions, your hair says a lot about you. The variety of hairstyles among tribes and regions is so rich and versatile that we had to put them in the spotlight.

A lot of styles that we are rocking today come from Africa, but there they are not only decorative but also symbolic. In some communities, the top of the head represents an entrance for spirits to access the soul. Hairstyling is so sacred that it is only done by trusted people, such as friends or relatives, as it could be used for witchcraft spells.  

According to your social status or gender the style will be different. Also, many styles symbolise a stage in

Mumuhuilas girls traditional hairstyles

Mumuhuilas girls traditional hairstyles

someone’s life, such as birth, puberty, marriage or death. For instance, girls and women of the Mumuhuila tribe in

Angola wear 4 or 6 plaits. Each style is structured and has a specific meaning. 

Hairstyling is a form of art realised mainly by women, who is passed from one generation to another. They spend many hours decorating and creating these hairstyles.  

Among the most popular hairstyles we can name braiding, threading and weaving which are still used today, all over the world. They are often embellished and protected with jewelleries, beads, clay or oil.

Check out these handsome hairstyles that the African continent has to offer! 

Sakalava woman

Sakalava woman

Young Zulu woman braiding hair

Zulu women

Fouta Djallon hairstyle

Woman from Fouta Djallon

Traditional hairstyle of Eritrean woman

Eritrean woman

 

Photos sources:  beauty-of-africa.tumblr.com

digitallibrary.usc.edu

collections.si.edu

Voila Viola (Pinterest)

Eric Lafforgue (Flickr)

Sunday Grooming – Black History Month

During the 1800s, the product junkies that we have today would have been unheard of, as the slave trade meant that hair maintenance was left down to items that were readily available.

Bombarded with the mindset that straighter, longer hair was ‘good’ hair (otherwise known as the European look), many slaves took it upon themselves to experiment with goods that could be used for the same affect that relaxers gives us today. Some concoctions consisted of Lye mixed with potatoes, which often left the scalp burnt is not applied properly. Other methods of hair straightening, included oiling the hair and wrapping sections using pieces of material, not to dissimilar to the method ‘Banding’ that we use today. Many men also straightened their hair using a mixture of eggs, potatoes and Lye, which was known as a Conk. Conks were used up until the 1960s and could be done in the home or by a professional Barber.

The 1800s was a time when not as many ships carrying slaves were sent to America. This meant that slaves could not be worked as hard and came at a much higher price. Because of the hard hours enforced each week, slaves kept their hair wrapped up from Monday to Saturday in a rag, scarf or handkerchief. Sunday was the only day when slaves paid close attention to hair maintenance, as laws were introduced that allowed this day to be given as time off.

Hair was moisturised using the likes of butter, goose fat and other oils that could be located in the kitchen. To clean the hair, kerosene and cornmeal could be used, whilst coffee could be use to dye the hair naturally.

Contrary to belief, ‘wool’ hair as it was referred to by non African-Americans of this time, was was very soft and grew fairly long. This was due to the fact that the hair didn’t experience much manipulation and was kept covered for the majority of the time. Practices like low manipulation hairstyles can definitely be applied to lifestyles of today if we aim to promote healthy growing hair and with the use of the right products (natural or otherwise), our beautiful ‘good’ hair will definitely shine through.

Black History Month

Hey Naturalistas!

Now that Black History Month is upon us (in the UK), make it count.

Take interest in a vibrant and thought-provoking history that is sadly forgotten about or referenced in our everyday lives.

Stay tuned for a month filled with Natural Pride’s take on black history.