Wednesday, October 26, 2016

From servant to millionaire

Martha Matilda Harper was born in Ontario in 1857. She was the fourth of 10 children and her parents were dirt poor. Each of their children was farmed out to work for others. When Martha was only seven, her dad got her a job as a servant to family members. Any wages she earned were sent to him. She cooked, cleaned, laundered and scrubbed, while her uncle and aunts gave her no love. She waited and learned, and at 12 she became a housekeeper for a widowed physician. He and his family helped Martha grow and thrive. He also taught her about scalp hygiene at a time when water was scarce and few people washed their hair. He even let her use his special formula hair tonic.

Using his tonic, her hair grew long and strong, and she became convinced that cleanliness was a key to true beauty. In 1882, at 25, she moved to Rochester, NY, working as a housekeeper to save money for her own business. When illness threatened to ruin her plans, she sought prayerful help from a Christian Scientist and soon recovered. Impressed by Christian Science ideals, she became a member of the church.

She invented the first reclining shampoo chair and opened a shop offering hair care. Upper-crust women lined up to have their hair treated by the Harper Method. With Rochester as headquarters, she developed the first salon franchise system in the United States. She insisted that servant girls or poor working woman own the first hundred Harper salons. She founded training schools to teach the Harper Method, using no chemicals on clients' skin or hair, but only organic products developed and sold by her own factories. Eventually she had about 500 salons around the world, which offered evening hours to meet the needs of busy mothers. After she retired in 1932, her (much younger) husband ran the business until his passing in 1965. Since then, Harper Method salons, sold and resold, have disappeared from the American business landscape. Martha died in 1950 at age 92. From a scrub girl to a wealthy business leader, she is credited with developing the modern franchise system.

No comments:

Post a Comment