March is known across the world as Women’s History Month. When compared to the existence of the human race, the women empowerment movement is very young and frankly, long overdue. Women who lived in the 19th Century would be pleasantly surprised to learn that not only have we elevated to celebrating an International Women’s Day but we are now empowered to the point of having an entire month every year dedicated to acknowledging the strides that women make in all aspects of life.
But is it enough? Amid all of the acknowledgement of women and their contributions to society, their stepping into male dominated fields and just generally taking up more space as women; there still remains a wage gap. Women of every race, continue to earn less than men regardless of the occupation. However, just as women who lived centuries ago dreamed of seeing the leaps that women in our current lifetime have made; women today continue to aspire towards equality.
In keeping with the theme for this year’s International Women’s History month, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories” , we choose to shine the light on three (3) women who have made significant impact in the hair care and beauty industry.
- Annie M. Malone
Inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and one of America’s first female self-made multimillionaires, Annie Malone revolutionized the hair care industry for Black women, paving the way for future beauty entrepreneurs. Growing up, Malone enjoyed chemistry. She became fascinated with hair care and developed a homemade line of products for Black women—at only 20-years old! While many women damaged their hair with harmful straightening methods, Malone pioneered non-damaging products that flattened strands and promoted regrowth.
- Madam C. J. Walker
Born Sarah Breedlove to parents who were formerly enslaved, she once worked as a washerwoman making a mere $1.50 a day. Persisting, she became a self-made millionaire through her wildly popular line of hair care. Breedlove experienced hair loss, dandruff, and other scalp ailments, which were unfortunately very common amongst Black women during the 1890s. Breedlove decided to channel her efforts by experimenting with home remedies, treatments, and products—few of which were, on their own, tailored to her hair texture. In the early 1900s, Breedlove moved to Colorado and began working for Annie Malone as a sales agent, all while gaining vital hair care knowledge that she would later incorporate into her own line. She also married Charles Walker and became known as Madam C. J. Walker.
- Courtney Adeleye
Adeleye’s initial background was in science. It’s hard to believe that in just six years the former registered nurse turned a $500 investment into a business that generated $100 million by creating a crossing-over of her science background and her passion for caring for her hair. Courtney Adeleye is the founder of The Mane Choice hair care line that rose to notoriety after she shared her own hair care videos on You Tube.