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Walker's Dream

Dreamed c. 1895 by C.J. Walker

Madame Walker honored on a US Postal Stamp

Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) is cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the first female American self-made millionaire. Walker was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist who founded a highly successful African-American cosmetic company that made her a millionaire many times over.

In the 1890s, Walker was suffering from a scalp infection that caused her to lose most of her hair. She began experimenting with patented medicines and hair-care products. They didn't work. She prayed for divine help...

"He answered my prayer, for one night I had a dream, and in that dream a big, black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up in my hair. Some of the remedy was grown in Africa, but I sent for it, mixed it, put it on my scalp, and in a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had ever fallen out. I tried it on my friends; it helped them. I made up my mind to begin to sell it."

The following quote best sums up her rise from a childhood in the poor south to being the head of an international, multi-million dollar corporation:

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations... I have built my own factory on my own ground."


I find business-dreams like this especially interesting because my own money has been made almost entirely from dream-advice. First a dozen dreams in a row warned me not to focus on promotions or bonuses, but to save every penny for a few years and invest it all in long-term social/ethical funds. I did, and retired at 36.

Freud acknowledged dreams have access to subliminal data the conscious overlooked, but he also felt dreams' outlook and concerns were childish, even petty. Jung felt this was too narrow--he emphasized dreams' interest in personal and spiritual growth--but even he saw the dreaming mind as a sort of Noble Savage--wise on spiritual matters, but naive about science, numbers, money & business. As Walker proves, some of us Noble Savages have savvy. Dreams mean business--in every sense.

--Chris Wayan

Sources:, On Her Own Ground: the Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, A'Lelia P. Bundles, 2001,,, and Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture, Kathy Peiss, 1999, Owl Books

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