Golden Beauty Boss

Golden Beauty Boss
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  • Item #: 9781620062616

The Story of Madame Sara Spencer Washington and the Apex Empire

Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks has created the first biography of the life of Madame Sara Spencer Washington, founder of Apex News and Hair Company, once located in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  In 1911, a Virginia entrepreneur moved to Atlantic City and started selling cosmetics door-to-door and styling hair in her basement, growing her business into an empire. Sara opened a manufacturing company creating hundreds of products and hired 45,000 sales agents all over the world.  Madame Sara Spencer Washington also opened beauty schools in twelve states. Sara was honored at the New York World’s Trade Fair in 1939 as one of the “Most Distinguished Businesswomen.”  She continued to expand Apex internationally, doing business in Haiti and South Africa. Madame Washington acquired millionaire status in the 1940s, taking on roles as a civic leader, and philanthropist.  Cheryl takes you through the history of Apex from its inception until its dissolution after Sara’s death in 1953, sharing details of her life as she faced discrimination while earning the respect of all races along her journey.


Cheryl Woodruff Brooks brings the amazing story of entrepreneur, educator, and activist Sara Spencer Washington to life with her riveting narrative inGolden Beauty Boss. The compelling book is more than a biography of a plucky figure whose vision and determination in the face of many challenges forged a colossal black manufacturing company, a global enterprise, indeed an Apex Empire that included a huge network of beauty schools and services providing opportunities for African Americans that changed the face of the political economy of America. It is a saga that reminds us of the important social and cultural contexts of African American business--and indeed the changing American concept of beauty.

-- Simon J. Bronner, Dean of the College of General Studies and professor of social sciences and business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


After curating an exhibit of photos from photographer, John W. Mosley for her thesis project, Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks completed her first book, Chicken Bone Beach: A Pictoral History of Atlantic City’s Missouri Avenue Beach (Sunbury Press) in 2017, which was nominated for a 2017 Literary Award with the Schomburg Center in New York City, used in classrooms at Purdue University and referenced in The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies. Cheryl has been involved in speaking engagements discussing Chicken Bone Beach, including an event called, Black Girl Beach Day which took place on the sands of historical Chicken Bone Beach, Rowan University, and the Atlantic City Historical Museum. Cheryl has been interviewed by several newspapers such as the Philadelphia Tribune, celebrity strategist and on-air radio personality Dyana Williams of Philadelphia’s Radio One, IHeart Radio, podcasts, and online radio stations. Cheryl is also a professional singer/songwriter, writing songs for her own music projects and for other artists. 

by Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks
Trade paperback - 5 x 8 x .5
116 Pages
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic
HISTORY / African American
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Price $9.99
Availability In-Stock

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