Meet The Women Behind Madam C.J. Walker's New Haircare Brand

A’Lelia Bundles and Cara Sabin are introducing the legendary Walker name to a new generation.

A’Lelia Bundles & Cara Sabin
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

Madam C.J. Walker is nothing short of legendary.

As one of the first entrepreneurs of her time, she founded her eponymous haircare brand in 1906, back when products for textured hair didn't exist. And thanks to the breakthrough of Madam Walker's Wonder Hair Grower, she went from selling her products door-to-door to becoming the first female self-made millionaire in American history.

Honoring Madam C.J. Walker's desire to empower Black women with quality, high-performance products, Walker's great-great granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles and CEO of Sundial Brands, Cara Sabin are ushering in the next chapter of the iconic brand with the launch of MADAM by C.J. Walker.

Available exclusively at Walmart and priced under $10, the affordable collection includes 11 products that range from a soothing scalp treatment to a humidity-shielding gel. The entire lineup honors Walker's philosophy that good hair days start with a healthy scalp.

The brand pays homage to the original Walker System with its Scalp to Strand System, a technology that helps to strengthen and repair hair so women can style their hair however they please. To make it easier to decipher which product to use when, the brand has also divided them into three categories: Healthy Scalp, Stronger Hair, and Unlimited Styling.

Ahead, Bundles and Sabin share how MADAM by C.J. Walker was inspired by Walker's original brand and how it fits into the haircare space in 2022.

How did you approach creating this new brand so that it's modern, but still still captures the original values and quality of Madam C.J. Walker?

A'Lelia: From our first conversation about MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker, Cara Sabin and I both wanted to tap into Madam Walker's original formulas for inspiration. We also wanted to focus on her legacy of empowering women. It's been especially powerful and gratifying for me to work with stellar Black women executives like Cara at Sundial and Angel Beasley at Walmart as they and their teams applied 100 years of science and technology to develop conditioners, serums, and balms that take Madam Walker's emphasis on scalp health to an innovative new level.

Cara: For so many of us, Madam C.J. Walker has been an integral part of our lives and our family's lives before us. So first and foremost, the goal in launching this new brand was to pay homage to Madam C.J. Walker by staying true to her legacy and values of women empowerment, confidence, entrepreneurship and much more. We created this brand to inspire a sense of boldness and freedom through a modern and forward-thinking hair care system.

How did Madam C.J. Walker's original products inspire this lineup?

Cara: The collection has combined Madam C.J. Walker's original trademark formulas with leading science and technology innovations to create the damage defying products that are featured in the new MADAM By Madam C.J. Walker line.

A'Lelia: The new Scalp to Strand System mirrors the original Walker System by promoting scalp health as the foundation for healthy hair. Madam Walker's key products – her Vegetable Shampoo and her Wonderful Hair Grower – were revolutionary when she founded her company in 1906 and addressed the specific needs of the times when there were very few commercially available hair care options for Black women. MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker's innovative formulas benefit from more than a century of research and development specifically focused on textured hair. It's important to me that Sundial's team was very intentional about incorporating Madam Walker's original goals into products that give today's women options for scalp health and styling versatility.

A'Lelia: Madam C.J. Walker's philosophy was that healthy, strong hair first starts with a healthy scalp. With the launch of MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker, we hope the products give consumers the freedom, confidence, and ease to style their hair the way they want, when they want.

Cara: From heated and relaxed styles to natural and protective looks, the Scalp to Strand System's proprietary technology helps repair and strengthen textured hair starting at the roots. With the Scalp to Strand system, customers can expect a line that celebrates the multi-dimensionality of women with textured hair, enabling them to easily switch it up while promoting a healthy scalp, stronger hair, and unlimited styling possibilities.

VIDEO: 4 Natural Hair Growth Tips From Childhood That You Should Be Using Now

The haircare industry is finally taking strides to be more inclusive of natural hair textures. How do you hope the launch of this brand adds to the betterment of it?

Cara: I'm excited about the progress that the haircare industry has made to be more inclusive for natural hair textures, thanks in very large part to the CROWN Act initiated by Dove, our sister brand. Everyone should have the freedom to wear and style their hair as they choose without fear of judgement or discrimination. MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker celebrates the multi-dimensionality of women with textured hair. With eleven new products that are designed to respect, protect and perfect the wide range of styles worn by women of color, this collection is another positive step towards a more inclusive society.

A'Lelia: MADAM embodies Madam C.J. Walker's original spirit of empowerment and self-care. The line was created to celebrate this trailblazing legacy for the next generation. We really are dedicating these products to every woman of color who is charting her own path, with strands, braids, curls, twists and locs that tell expressive stories. Our goal is to inspire Black girls and women everywhere and to be one of the key elements in the toolkit that helps them live their lives with confidence.

Shop Madam by Madam C.J. Walker Haircare Products

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Stretch & Define Curl Cream

MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker Stretch & Define Curl Cream

On top of defining curls, this multitasking cream boosts elasticity and protects against future damage.

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Instant Repair Deep Conditioner

MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker Instant Repair Deep Conditioner

This rich deep conditioner works to repair and strengthen hair to minimize breakage.

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Healthy Scalp Serum

MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker Healthy Scalp Treatment

Apply this nourishing treatment directly on the scalp to relieve and soothe dry skin. The serum is designed to be used on wet hair or in-between wash days.

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Humidity Shield Styling Gel

MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker Humidity Shield Styling Gel

All hold, no crunch: apply Madam's gel on damp hair for soft, defined curly styles.

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Detangling Leave-In Conditioner

MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker Detangling Leave-In Conditioner

The beauty of this leave-in conditioner is that it gently detangles curls without further compromising them.

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