Natural haircare pioneer, Madam C.J. Walker, has products revamped for the 21st century
MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker is being sold at Walmart, both in-store and online.
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The great-great-granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker, A’Lelia Bundles has relaunched her ancestor's haircare line under the name MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker. The line contains 11 products inspired by Walker’s original line, including conditioners, serums, and hair balm.
The brand was acquired by Sundial Brands, a subsidiary of Unilever, in 2013. This company owns other natural haircare brands, such as Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage. This most recent launch is not the first time that Sundial Brands has relaunched the line. The first was in 2016 with the release of Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, which was sold at Sephora. In 2019, the brand did a soft relaunch with fewer products.
The original line and company allowed Bundles’ great-great-grandmother to become America’s first female self-made millionaire. This would have been a feat for any woman to accomplish, but especially for a Black woman in the early 1900s.
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867. The American Civil War had ended just two years before and Walker was the first in her family to be born free. Her parents worked as sharecroppers and passed away by the time she was 7 years old. In an effort to get away from an abusive brother-in-law, Walker got married at just 14 years old to Moses McWilliams. She had her daughter A’Lelia in 1885 at the age of 18 and became a widow two years later. She married her second husband in 1894 and divorced him in 1903.
In the 1890s, she began to experience hair loss and bad dandruff. She experimented with different homemade and store-bought remedies. At this time she was working as a sales agent for businesswoman and entrepreneur Annie Malone, selling her haircare products.
Eventually, Walker quit that job, married Charles Joseph Walker in 1905, and started her own haircare line. She dubbed herself and her brand Madam C.J. Walker. Her signature product was the Wonderful Hair Grower, which helped with scalp problems.
To sell her products she went door to door, teaching women how to use the products. As her business grew, she hired and trained women as hair culturists to do the same. She even opened several training schools around the country. At the height of her business’ success, she had 20,000 women employed as hair culturists. By the time she died in 1919, she had created a haircare empire that lasted until the 1980s.
Similar to Walker’s original line, these new, revamped products focus on improving scalp health to help hair overall with the Scalp to Strand System.
During an interview with Byrdie, Bundles said, “I think she'd be pleased that some of the ideas she thought worked more than 100 years ago can still be applied today and have been taken to a new level.”
MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker products can be found in Walmart stores or online at walmart.com.