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Barbie just added a powerhouse entrepreneur to its Inspiring Women series of dolls.
Known for creating a line of hair care products and cosmetics specifically designed for Black women at the turn of the 20th century, Madam C.J. Walker became the first well-documented self-made woman millionaire in American history. She helped revolutionize the hair care industry of the time and opened doors for future generations of women interested in opening their own businesses.
The new Madam C.J. Walker Barbie is dressed in a floral-printed blouse and full-length turquoise skirt, and is holding a miniature replica of her original Wonderful Hair Grower product. Priced at $35, the doll is available at major retailers including Amazon.
The doll was created in collaboration with A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and official biographer. A former network television news executive and producer at ABC News and NBC News, Bundles is also brand historian for Madam by Madam C. J. Walker, a line of hair care products inspired by her ancestor’s legacy.
“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. 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,” Bundles said in a press release. “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.”
Walker was born in 1867 on the same Louisiana plantation where her parents had been enslaved before the end of the Civil War. Orphaned at age 7, she survived by working in cotton fields with her older sister. She was married at age 14 and had her only daughter at 18.
According to the biography on her official website, after moving to St. Louis following the death of her husband, she worked as a barber with her brothers. While suffering from a scalp ailment that caused her to lose hair, Walker began experimenting with homemade remedies and store-bought products. Eventually, she created her own product and launched her business, which included mail-order sales.
Beyond making history for her considerable earnings, Walker was also known for her dedication in supporting several orphanages, YWCAs and historically Black colleges. An early advocate for American social justice, she also supported the NAACP and other civil rights organizations.
Other dolls from Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series have included Ida B. Wells, Billie Jean King, Dr. Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, and the latest, Dr. Jane Goodall, the renowned conservationist known for her work with chimpanzees.
Who would you like to see added to this line of impressive figures?