Honoring the Legacy of Women Trailblazers: The Power of Beauty. The Power of Women Supporting Women.

By A’Lelia Bundles
Author, Journalist, Madam Walker’s Great-Great-Granddaughter

Our stories are our power! As women we must tell our stories so future generations can see themselves in our triumphs and in our challenges. We must tell our stories so girls grow up assuming they can be bosses and innovators.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we are showered with magazine cover stories, documentaries, LinkedIn posts and TikTok videos about amazing women. But not so long ago, those stories were hard to find.

When I was in elementary school in the 1950s, my favorite library books were biographies. I loved learning facts about historical figures. But something was missing. Almost all the books were about men. I remember reading about author Louisa May Alcott and pilot Amelia Earhart, but there was nothing on the shelves about Black, Latina, Asian American and Indigenous women. Fortunately, the publishing industry is correcting this omission and women’s history is no longer just a footnote in the larger narrative of human history.

Today, I write the books I wish had been written for me as I tell the story of my great-great-grandmother, Madam C.J. Walker. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on the same cotton plantation where her parents and older siblings had been enslaved, she became an early 20th century entrepreneur and millionaire by selling a line of hair care products created in 1906 specifically for Black women.

Having solved her own hair loss dilemma, she traveled throughout the United States, Central America and the Caribbean recruiting sales agents. Soon the products became a means to a greater end as she realized that her customers needed education and wanted financial independence as much as hair care products.

Madam Walker – like cosmetics industry founders Helena Rubinstein, Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Arden and Mary Kay Ash – knew the beauty business was lucrative. Despite their expertise in product formulation, strategic marketing and customer service, they all struggled to be taken seriously by investors, suppliers and male-dominated banks. Ultimately, their visionary business models prevailed as they employed thousands of women, empowered them economically and encouraged their self-confidence.

These successful businesswomen claimed their seat at the table even if they had to build their own board rooms to do so. They used their clout to fight for women’s rights and against domestic violence. That same spirit of advocacy shines through today, notably among women of color. Their concern for equality and fairness has inspired many beauty industry leaders to join them in supporting the CROWN Act, a law that bans workplace discrimination based on hair texture and styles, particularly those worn by African Americans. While federal legislation has not yet passed, 20 states have enacted their versions.

The beauty business always has been more complex than lip gloss and hair spray. From the beginning, it has been about women’s entrepreneurship, personal power, collaboration and economic empowerment.

Whether today or this month, I hope you will take some time to learn more about trailblazing women. Whether it’s Madam Walker and other cosmetics industry pioneers or women scientists, artists, diplomats, librarians, athletes, elected officials and your own grandmother, they all are a testament to the brilliance, creativity and fortitude of women who have succeeded against the odds.

Personal Care Products Council Announces New Board Chair and Officers



Lisa Powers, powersl@personalcarecouncil.org, (202) 297-1232
Stefanie Harrington, harringtons@personalcarecouncil.org, (202) 615-6558  

Personal Care Products Council Announces New Board Chair and Officers
Barbara Menarguez, General Manager of Fragrance and Beauty, CHANEL, Assumes New Position March 2023

Washington, D.C. — The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) announced today the election of its new Board of Directors Chair Barbara Menarguez, general manager of fragrance and beauty, CHANEL. Menarguez has built a dynamic career in the beauty industry and currently oversees CHANEL’s marketing, sales, education and sales planning.

“Barbara’s impressive accomplishments and strong leadership will serve our membership well as we continue to advance our industry’s determination for a more beautiful and sustainable world,” said Lezlee Westine, PCPC president and CEO. “I look forward to working more closely with her as we continue to strengthen our commitment to our members and our consumers.”

Barbara Menarguez, general manager of Fragrance and Beauty, CHANEL

Menarguez has been with CHANEL for more than 25 years, serving as the company’s senior vice president and chief financial officer for eight of those years. She is widely recognized for her thoughtful leadership.

“PCPC is the voice for the industry whose products touch the lives of nearly every American household each day,” said Menarguez. “Families rely on our products to enhance their well-being and quality of life. I’m honored to help lead PCPC as we continue to educate policy makers, legislators, regulators, the media and, most importantly, our consumers about our innovative industry and our commitment to sound science.”

Joining Menarguez on PCPC’s Board of Directors are the following newly elected officers:

Vice Chairs:      
Esi Eggleston Bracey; president Unilever USA, CEO North America Personal Care; Unilever
David Greenberg; CEO L’Oréal USA and president, North America Zone; L’Oréal
Chris Heiert, senior vice president the Specialty Beauty Group, Procter & Gamble
Mark Loomis, president North America, The Estée Lauder Companies

Maria “Duda” Kertész; president, U.S. Skin Health & Beauty; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health

Deborah Gibbins, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Mary Kay


For more information on cosmetics and personal care products and their ingredients, please visit www.CosmeticsInfo.org.

Founded in 1894, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) is the voice and advocate for 600 member companies representing the $529.3 billion global cosmetics and personal care products industry. PCPC’s members represent approximately 90% of the U.S. beauty industry and are some of the most beloved and trusted brands in beauty and personal care today. As the manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of a diverse range of products millions of consumers rely on every day – from sunscreens, toothpaste and shampoo to moisturizer, makeup and fragrance – PCPC’s member companies are global leaders committed to product safety, quality and innovation.