Sarah Breedlove was born in 1867 to two sharecroppers, on the same Louisiana plantation where they had been enslaved since before the Civil War. By age seven, Breedlove was an orphan. However, this young girl would grow up to become Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. Not only did Walker start her empire after a childhood rife with loss, discrimination, and abuse, she did it all as a single mother.
In the 1890s, Walker began to experience hair loss and looked hard for a solution. She experimented with home remedies and store-bought products, and consulted her brothers who worked in a barber shop. She eventually developed Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula that she began peddling around the country. From there, her business continued to grow, as word of Walker's product spread among African-American women. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success," Walker reportedly once said. "And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard."