She created the “Walker System” and later worked to market and sell custom hair care products specifically for African American women. One of the first proponents of, black is beautiful. Walker employed numerous women as “beauty culturalists” whom she would train and send out as door-to-door saleswomen. As her clientele grew, so did her notoriety and fortune. Although it is difficult to determine firsts in history with precision, it seems likely that Walker became the first black woman to earn and amass a fortune of over one million dollars in the United States.
In 1918, Madam Walker hired African American architect Vertner Tandy to build her dream house on four acres in Irvington, New York. He designed her a 30-room Roman villa in white stucco, red tiled roof, with a two-story, semi-circular portico visible from Broadway. She decided to name the mansion Villa Lewaro lovingly after her daughter A’Lelia Walker Robinson, using two letters from each of her names. The home caused some local controversy, as whites living in the surrounding area were not favorable to having Walker as a neighbor.
Walker was leading contributor to the NAACP and other black institutions. She also offered scholarships for African American women and she dedicated much of her latter life to supporting causes that strengthened African American businesses and communities.