Sarah Breedlove was born in Delta, Louisiana, on December 23, 1865. She was the fifth child of Owen and Minerva Breedlove, who were ex-slaves and sharecroppers. They lived on the Burney Plantation in Delta and died before Sarah turned eight. When Sarah was ten, she moved to Vicksburg with her sister. At the age of fourteen she married, at eighteen she had her first child and at the age of twenty she was made a widow. She moved to St. Louis with her daughter and made a living by washing laundry. Sarah soon started to notice that she was losing her hair and that other black women faced the same problem. She wanted to create a product that will somehow prevent this from continuing.
The first product she invented, in 1905, was a scalp treatment that used petroleum and a hot oil to heal scalp problems. She later invented a system for straightening hair and named herself Madame C.J. Walker. She began selling her products door-to-door in the black neighborhoods of St. Louis. In a matter of time, since she was so successful, she added a hair-growing ointment to her product line. As her business began to expand, Sarah could handle all the customers by herself. As a result, she trained and employed saleswomen who she later named "Walker Agents" to help her sell her products door to door. Walker Agents were treated fair and taken care of well. .
In 1910 she moved her company, The Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, from Denver, Colorado to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She eventually became a millionaire from her business, which was from 1911 to 1917. Her business in Indianapolis soon made over $100,000 a year. The company's fame soon spread throughout the country and then into Europe. As her wealth grew she participated in philanthropic causes. Many of them include, starting scholarships, helping the NAACP (National Association of Colored Women), helping the Tuskegee Institute, and Bethune-Cookman College.