2. Madam C.J. Walker, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Born in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) was one of America’s first self-made female millionaires. This would have been astounding in itself, but Walker faced additional hurdles: Her parents were freed slaves, and she was the first child in her family not born into slavery.
As a young woman, Walker started losing her hair and developed hair-care products out of necessity. In 1905 she and her husband began traveling cross-country to promote them. A pioneer in more ways than one, Walker hired salespeople to demonstrate the products to African Americans in their homes. When Walker died in 1919, her business was worth more than $1 million, much of which she donated to philanthropic causes.