While living in Saint Louis, Madam C. J. Walker had experienced increasing hair loss and developed bald spots because of severe scalp infections. Her pursuit of a cure led her to enter the beauty culture business. Once she was living in Denver and running her own company, Walker connected to potential clients through advertisements that emphasized the ability of her products to relieve her own hair issues. In September 1906, Walker set off on what became a year and a half of traveling to build her business. By the end of her travels, her business was making $400 a month—an extraordinary income for the time.
In 1908, Madam Walker made the decision to relocate to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to be close to a large African American population. She and A’Lelia established a full-service salon and a beauty college that provided vocational training.
After just two years in Pittsburgh, Walker was recognized as “one of the most successful businesswomen of the race in this community” in the Pennsylvania Negro Business Directory. Her grand ambitions led her to look for a new city better positioned to establish a permanent national headquarters. Walker found just that place when she visited Indianapolis in February 1910.