America’s First Female Self-made Millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker is Now a Barbie

For Barbie’s Inspiring Women line, the next honoree is Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. Walker, whose parents were slaves was originally named Sarah Breedlove. Thousands of Black women were employed by her booming business, Walker Manufacturing Co. which she founded to produce hair care and cosmetics specifically for Black women.

In her latter years, Walker became known for her activism and philanthropy, especially in the areas of civil rights and the advancement of women’s rights. She donated to and helped found numerous orphanages and historically black colleges.

Dolls of Madam C.J. Walker depict the successful businesswoman in her trademark floral-print shirt and turquoise skirt while promoting her signature “Wonderful Hair Grower.” According to a statement given to Sources, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles collaborated with Mattel on the project. Bundles are the creator of a line of hair care products.

“It was a joy to work with Barbie on the design and creation of an Inspiring Women doll made in the likeness of my great-great-grandmother Madam C.J. Walker,” said Bundles in the statement.

Madam C.J. Walker Barbie
Madam C.J. Walker Barbie

“Their design team graciously welcomed me throughout all steps of the process — from hair development to packaging — to capture and celebrate the legacy of this trailblazing Black businesswoman. I can’t wait for a new generation to be inspired by her story and to tell their own stories through a role model who came before them.”

Mattel sees the toy as a way to teach kids about Walker’s groundbreaking work and encourage them to think outside the box.

“As a pioneer in entrepreneurship, philanthropy and activism creating the blueprint for the self-made American businesswoman and innovators of the twentieth century, Madam C.J. Walker is an embodiment of our Barbie Inspiring Women series,” stated Lisa McKnight executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, in the statement.

“We’re honoured to welcome her into this group of trailblazing women and introduce more kids to her journey of becoming one of the nation’s first widely successful female founders.” Mattel charges $35 for its Madam C.J. Walker doll. Barbie’s Inspiring Women collection has featured dolls inspired by women including Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks.

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