Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks began working on the research that would lead her to create Golden Beauty Boss while preparing her thesis, which would go on to become the book Chicken Bone Beach. A review is also planned for her first book, but I wanted to begin with the life of Madame Sara Spencer-Washington. Her story is one of tremendous triumph and impressive business acumen that I had never heard mentioned before in any history courses. Woodruff-Brooks shares the impressive story of Apex and the empire that it built not just in the United States, but in the world.
The book begins by explaining that Beauty Culture is an important element of African-American history because it was the first sector of business where Black people were able to gain financial freedom. While Spencer-Washington was not the first figure in Beauty Culture to make a name for herself, she was able to grow her knowledge starting in 1911 by selling cosmetics door-to-door in Atlantic City into a business that would give her the title of millionaire by the 1940s. In 1939, she even gained the title of one of the “Most Distinguished Businesswomen” at the New York World’s Fair.
Golden Beauty Boss shows readers the growth and influence of Apex as it continued to grow until Sara Spencer-Washington’s death in 1953. She showcases the details of her life as she faced discrimination while also gaining respect from a variety of people along her journey. Her company was able to grow and do business in Haiti and South Africa. Spencer-Washington fought to give Black women equal representation in areas related to Beauty Culture, even working to create a parade that would be a version of the Miss America Pageant when her girls were overlooked. She also created beauty schools in twelve states that helped to give Black women a certificate and many women even moved to ensure that they could attend these schools. Spencer-Washington worked to give opportunities to many throughout her life and her story is one to admire. You can get your copy of Golden Beauty Boss today.