Madam C.J. Walker was the first female self-made millionaire in the country thanks to her pioneering beauty company, which provided haircare products for people of color. Now, Mattel, the company famous for bringing Barbie into the American zeitgeist, is turning the historic entrepreneur into a Barbie as part of its Inspiring Women collection. Walker is also famous for her home, Villa Lewaro, a 34-room, 20,000-square-foot mansion on Irvington’s Fargo Lane and North Broadway.
According to Mattel’s executive vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Lisa McKnight, Walker is the ideal figure to honor due to her history-making achievements. “As a pioneer in entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and activism, creating the blueprint for the self-made American businesswoman and innovators of the 20th century, Madam C.J. Walker is an embodiment of our Barbie Inspiring Women Series,” says McKnight. “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.”
Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, worked with McKnight and Mattel to create the doll, ensuring it properly honors her legendary ancestor. “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,” says Bundles, who is also Walker’s oﬃcial biographer.
“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.”
“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 says. “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.”
Related: Madam C. J. Walker Was a Haircare Magnate Who Called Irvington Home