In 1867, when Sarah Breedlove was born to former slaves on a Louisiana plantation, no one imagined she would found a beauty empire and become a self-made millionaire. Orphaned by seven, married at 14, and a widow by 20, young Sarah took her daughter and moved to St. Louis to join her brothers.
But when another setback caused Sarah’s hair to fall out, she wasn’t about to give up. Her search for a cure drove her to launch a business that would include training schools for sales reps and beauty advisors (years before the empire-building example of Mary Kay Ash, who would found Mary Kay Cosmetics).
By the time she died in 1919, the persistent young Sarah had become known as Madam C. J. Walker—self-made millionaire, business tycoon, and philanthropist. Check out the video and some great archival photos at Biography.
Ada Byron was just 15 years old when she designed a flying machine back in 1828. Today we know her as Ada Lovelace, the founder of scientific computing (she even foresaw the invention of digital music). But it was no accident that young Ada was pushed to study math and music.
Her father was the Romantic poet Lord Byron. “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” he abandoned the family just after Ada was born. Fearing that little Ada would have the same impetuous, poetic traits, her mother decided math was a sure cure.
Ada went on to become, arguably, the first person to write a computer program and was later called the Enchantress of Numbers. Check out this video for even more fascinating facts on her life.