Inventors are inspirational. Martha Matilda Harper was an inventor, entrepreneur, and businesswoman. She invented hair care products and built the first international franchise of hair salons.
Martha was born on September 10, 1857 in Oakville, Ontario. Her father sent her to live as a domestic servant with others when she was seven. She worked as a domestic servant for twenty-five years. The last few years her work was in Rochester, New York. She next worked full-time producing a hair tonic she invented. Her product was natural, she had saved money while working as a servant, and opened the first public hair salon to help market it. The Harper Hair Parlour, her innovations like a reclining shampoo chair, and her products were successful. Her own floor-length hair was a marketing tool and appeared in advertisements. In 1891, she started franchising her hair salons. She would train and inspect the franchises. The company grew to more than 500 salons, which sold hair care products and more, in the United States, Canada, and other destinations.
Martha and her company became very successful. They produced a full line of hair care and beauty products. Famous clientele included Susan B. Anthony, United States Presidents and First Ladies, and actress Helen Hayes.
In 1920, Martha married Robert Arthur McBain. In 1935, she retired. Martha died in 1950, however The Harper Method Inc. continued to operate under different owners. Her husband died in 1965, however business and manufacturing continued. In 1971, the company was renamed Niagara Mist Marketing Ltd. It was also known as The Soap Factory. In 1972, PEJ Beauty Corporation bought Harper Method Inc. They operated trade schools. The Harper Method Founder’s Shop was the last of their beauty shops to remain open until the early 2000s.
Martha believed in organic products, good hygiene, nutrition, and exercise. She advocated and trained franchises in those beliefs. Her business ventures were successful. Be inspired! Have a bright day!