Sarah Spencer Washington was a successful businesswoman and philanthropist who founded the Apex News and Hair Company. Sarah's interest in developing beauty products began when she was studying advanced chemistry at Columbia University. She took her knowledge and used it to launch her cosmetics empire, with products such as pressing oils, pomades, hot combs, perfumes, lipsticks, and beauty creams.
The Apex empire grew to include eleven beauty schools across the United States, as well as international schools that specialized in teaching women to care for their hair with Apex products. Sarah also became a significant employer for her community, employing an estimated forty-five thousand sales agents across the U.S., in addition to 500 hundred employees throughout her stores.
Cementing her legacy as a pioneering female entrepreneur, Sarah Spencer Washington expanded her business to include the Apex Publishing Company, Apex Laboratories Apex Drug Company, and Apex Beauty Colleges. In 1939 she was recognized as the "Most Distinguished Businesswomen" at New York's World Fair. This brought Sarah international recognition, and she officially became one of the US's first black millionaires. Sarah used her success and fortune to give back to her community in various ways, including giving an endowment of a home for young girls and contributing twenty acres of farmland as a campsite for African American youths.
As of the 1980s, the Apex College of Beauty in Philadelphia became America's oldest black institution of beauty technology and is one of the country's most successful and long-standing cosmetology schools.
What do you think about the work of Sarah Spencer Washington?
Leave a comment and share!