Madam CJ Walker was ahead of her time. Born in Louisiana in 1867, the child of former slaves went on to create her own beauty line in 1905, a business that eventually made her one of the first female (not to mention African-American) self-made millionaires in America. While living in Denver, Walker formulated her own remedy to treat a scalp disorder. This led to the creation of a full line of hair and skin-care products made specifically for African-American women. The business maverick soon took it a step further, traveling the country to sell her products while giving demonstrations of the "Walker Method" of hair care and styling.
Her products and mission live on today in the Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture line, which can be purchased at retailers across the country. Walker's story is also preserved in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last month in Washington, D.C. In honor of Madam CJ Walker's accomplishments and her place in Colorado's rich history, here are six more local health and beauty companies founded and run by women.
1. Anasa Bath & Body Bakery
There's a reason that the Anasa Bath & Body Bakery line of products looks good enough to eat: It was created by local pastry chef Diedra Rae. Her sweet take on soaps, scrubs and body soufflés are made with such ingredients as shea butter, essential oils and real sugar, and they're available in a variety of flavorful scents. See Rae's full line of mouthwatering, good-body products on the Anasa website, and be sure to look at what the chef is doing on the culinary side: Rae also makes elaborate cakes and hearty meals that are actually edible.
2. Base Coat Nail Salon
3244 Navajo Street, #101
A longtime Denver business owner and entrepreneur who's always on the forefront of trends, Tran Wills opened Base Coat Nail Salon in 2013. Boasting the use of chemical-free products in a fashion-forward environment where nail technicians are compensated fairly for their work, Base Coat provides a unique salon experience. Not long ago, the brand started producing its own line of chemical and cruelty-free nail polishes, which are used for mani/pedi services and can be purchased online or in-store. Later this year, Base Coat will open additional locations in Stapleton and downtown Los Angeles.
3600 Tejon Street
Fig+Yarrow founder Brandy Monique's vision is simple: to create skin and beauty products guided by the spiritual nature of plant-based medicine. Oats, herbs and plant-derived oils are used to create hydrating toners, cleansers, scents and scrubs that are free of synthetic ingredients. Fig+Yarrow partners with Base Coat Nail Salon to make the spa products used in the salon's services. Visit the brand's physical location on the Northside or order products via the Fig+Yarrow website.
Keep reading for three more women-owned beauty businesses.
4. R.L. Linden & Co.
1474 South Acoma Street
Organic chemists Robin King and Lynn Flanagan-Till are the brains and brawn behind R.L. Linden & Co., a local beauty- and wellness-focused company that makes all products by hand, in-house. Using sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients, the pair and their small staff mix up cleansers, toners, natural deodorants and more. These herb experts have also created their own line of healing teas, using their knowledge of plant medicine and culinary technique. Purchases can be made by appointment at the brand's physical lab/location by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the R.L. Linden website.
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5. Spinster Sisters Co.
908 12th Street, Golden
3070 Blake Street, Unit 170
With irresistible scent combinations like Lemongrass-Sage and Eucalyptus-Lime, the soap bars created by Spinster Sisters Co. are a multi-sensory experience. Proprietor Kelly Perkins and her staff work out of a wind-powered "microsoapery" in Golden, making more than just soap; they formulate and produce body lotions, bug sprays, salves, essential oils and more. Utilizing raw ingredients sourced locally when possible, Spinster Sisters is committed to meeting the beauty and health needs of its customers while respecting the planet from which it sources its ingredients. Visit Spinster Sisters Co. locations in Golden and Denver or go to the brand's website for its full line of products.
6. Sweet Georgia Sugar
Sweet Georgia Sugar started as a small-batch line made in Sarah Jacobson's kitchen, and has since grown into a nationally distributed beauty phenomenon. From body butters and colorful bars of soap to perfume oils and scrubs, these products are chemical-free and made with love. Sweet Georgia Sugar has something for every skin type, in delicious scent combinations like orange-clove, rose-vanilla and frankincense, myrrh and green tea. Purchase Sweet Georgia Sugar's body treatments via its website, where you can also find a list of stores carrying these made-in-Colorado treasures.