NATIONAL NEWS

Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, is now a Barbie

Aug 29, 2022, 5:29 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 11:14 am
Mattel has honored Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire, with a Barbie in her ...
Mattel has honored Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire, with a Barbie in her likeness as part of its "Inspiring Women" line. (Mattel Inc. via CNN)
(Mattel Inc. via CNN)

(CNN)Madam. C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S., is the next female role model to be honored in Barbie’s line of Inspiring Women dolls.

Walker, the daughter of former slaves, was born as Sarah Breedlove. She achieved enormous success by founding Walker Manufacturing Co., a line of haircare products and cosmetics designed for Black women, and employed thousands of Black women at her company.

Later in her life, Walker went on to become a noted activist and philanthropist, supporting orphanages and Black colleges, and advocating for civil rights organizations and women’s rights.

Portrait of American businesswoman, philanthropist and activist Madam CJ Walker, 1913. She is widely considered the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. (Addison N. Scurlock/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images via CNN)

The Madam C.J. Walker doll features a rendition of the entrepreneur wearing a floral printed blouse and turquoise skirt and holding her original product, “Wonderful Hair Grower.”

Walker’s great-great granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, herself the designer of a haircare collection, worked with Mattel on the collaboration, according to a statement shared with CNN.

“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.

“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.”

For Mattel, the toy is an opportunity to inspire children to break boundaries and educate them about Walker’s trailblazing career.

“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,” said Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, in the statement.

“We’re honored 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.”

The Madam C.J. Walker doll is available for sale for $35 from Mattel.

Barbie has also used the Inspiring Women line to highlight Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, and Rosa Parks.


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Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, is now a Barbie