Monday, February 16, 2015

Black Women Entrepreneurs

In the celebration of Black History Month and me opening my new business ( ) , I want to dedicate this post to some women who came before me and decided to do it for themselves. 

Annie Turnbo Malone:
Whenever people think of black women entrepreneurs in history, the go to person is Madam C.J. Walker, who many believed single handedly started the black hair industry.   What if I told you there was someone who came before her?  Four years before Madam C.J Walker, Malone launched her hair care business made for African-American women.  During the early part of the 20th century, Annie ran hair care products and cosmetics like a boss.  Decades before Carol’s Daughters, Malone had the hair product game on lock. 

Annie Malone is the definition of overcoming.  Inspite of being a sickly child and not completing high school, she had the entrepreneur spirit.  It was during this time that black women were getting away from cornrows because of its connection to slavery.  They were turning to soaps, bacon grease, heavy oil, butter and other methods to straighten their hair.  In some cases, these methods were actually damaging to the hair.  Working with her aunt who was an herbal doctor, she developed a solution to straighten hair safely or as safely as you could get in the early 1900s. 

Along with her product The Great Wonderful Hair Grower, she opened a beauty school in St. Louis that trained other women to be hair stylists and employed women to sell her products door-to-door.  At some point Madam C.J. Walker worked for Annie and then decided to do her own thing.  I’m not saying there was tension between these two ladies but I can only imagine the side eyes that were probably exchanged between them. 

For more information on this incredible woman, go to

Sarah E. Goode:

IKEA might be the go-to place for convenient furniture, but Sarah E. Goode was making furniture for small spaces centuries before the Swedish.  Sarah was the first African-American to receive a U.S patent.  Goode was born into slavery and moved to Chicago, IL after the Civil War. 

With her husband, Archibald Goode, a carpenter, she owned a furniture store.  Many of her customers were working class black people living in small, cramped apartments.  To help with their situation, Sarah invented a “folding bed” that could be put up when not in use and also be used for storage.  Not much is known about Sarah outside of her invention.  Nonetheless, she is worthy of a mention for an accomplishment that has had an effect on how furniture is made today.

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley:
First Lady Michelle Obama is known as one of the most fashionable First Ladies ever.  It’s nothing to catch her in a designer dress by the world’s most acclaimed designers.  Before Michelle was gracing the State of the Union Address in Prada, the designer to wear was Keckley.  Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave, would go on to be a dressmaker and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln’s wife).

After being born into slavery, impregnated by her owner, and being married for a short time, Elizabeth learned the art of dressmaking.  Her dresses were so popular with her clients that they offered her a loan to buy her freedom.  Elizabeth dresses stood out from the dresses of the time and she was an expert with fit.  She would eventually become the dressmaker for the political elite including Mary Todd Lincoln.  She would become very close with Mary Lincoln even being there for her when Lincoln was assassinated. 

Unfortunately, due to her tell-all memoir (Apparently, she was the TMZ of her generation)Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.

she would lose her friendship with Mary and also her high-end clientele.   Even though she was offered a faculty position at Ohio’s Wiberforce University teaching sewing, she would have to discontinue because of her health.  She died in May of 1907 impoverished.  Her story was revived in 2013 in the book

It is an honor to follow in their entrepreneurial foot steps.  Today I open my Etsy shop, Ebony's Kitchen Spa selling homemade body butters and body scrubs.  From today to the end of February you can get my Body Whip for $9.50 and Body Scrub for $8.50.  Do not miss this store opening sale!

As always thank you for supporting this blog as well as my new business venture.

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