Black History Month
Sarah Spencer Washington (1881-1953)
|“Madame Washington” as she was widely known, was a millionaire black businesswoman and founded the Apex News & Hair Company. She was born June 6, 1889 in Beckley, Virginia and died March 23, 1953 in Atlantic City. Washington attended Norfolk Mission College, and later studied at both Columbia University and Northwestern College.
In 1913 she started a hairdressing business in Atlantic City, and later expanded the business, teaching students and developing beauty products. After an employee referred to Washington as “Madame” out of respect, she adopted the title in her professional career. In 1920, noting the lack of beauty products for African Americans, she founded the Apex News & Hair Company. Apex maintained a lab and school in Atlantic City, as well as an office in New York City. Eventually her beauty colleges were located in twelve states and there were 35,000 agents all over the world.
Madame Washington has been called one of the most important business executives in the black community. She was honored at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as one of the “Most Distinguished Businesswomen”. She was also an active member of the Atlantic City Board of Trade.