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Martha Matilda Harper

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Martha Matilda Harper
Martha Matilda Harper.jpg
Born(1857-09-10)September 10, 1857
DiedAugust 3, 1950(1950-08-03) (aged 92)
Occupation(s)Businesswoman, entrepreneur, and inventor

Martha Matilda Harper (September 10, 1857 – August 3, 1950) was an American businesswoman, entrepreneur, and inventor who launched modern retail franchising and then built an international network of 500 franchised hair salons that emphasized healthy hair care. Born in Canada, Harper was sent away by her father when she was seven to work as a domestic servant. She worked in that profession for 25 years before she saved enough money to start working full-time producing a hair tonic she invented.[1] The product, and the creation of special hair salons that utilized it, was successful. Harper began franchising the salon model to low-income women, and by its peak the company included more than 500 franchises and an entire line of hair care products.

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Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of economic value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk beyond what is normally encountered in starting a business, which may include other values than simply economic ones.

Invention

Invention

An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition, idea or process. An invention may be an improvement upon a machine, product, or process for increasing efficiency or lowering cost. It may also be an entirely new concept. If an idea is unique enough either as a stand alone invention or as a significant improvement over the work of others, it can be patented. A patent, if granted, gives the inventor a proprietary interest in the patent over a specific period of time, which can be licensed for financial gain.

Franchising

Franchising

Franchising is based on a marketing concept which can be adopted by an organization as a strategy for business expansion. Where implemented, a franchisor licenses some or all of its know-how, procedures, intellectual property, use of its business model, brand, and rights to sell its branded products and services to a franchisee. In return, the franchisee pays certain fees and agrees to comply with certain obligations, typically set out in a franchise agreement.

Beauty salon

Beauty salon

A beauty salon or beauty parlor is an establishment that provides cosmetic treatments for people. Other variations of this type of business include hair salons, spas, day spas, and medical spas.

Canada

Canada

Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Domestic worker

Domestic worker

A domestic worker or domestic servant is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional English contexts, such a person was said to be "in service". Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual, from providing cleaning and household maintenance, or cooking, laundry and ironing, or care for children and elderly dependents, and other household errands.

Hair conditioner

Hair conditioner

Hair conditioner is a hair care cosmetic product used to improve the feel, texture, appearance, and manageability of hair. Its main purpose is to reduce friction between strands of hair to allow smoother brushing or combing, which might otherwise cause damage to the scalp. Various other benefits are often advertised, such as hair repair, strengthening, or a reduction in split ends.

Early years

Martha Matilda Harper was born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, on September 10, 1857. Her date of birth is sometimes disputed because she also used the year 1868 on occasion to reportedly make herself seem younger. However, she is said to have sworn in an affidavit that her true birth year was 1857.[2] Her parents were Robert and Beadie Harper.[3] She didn't receive much formal education as a child. Harper's father sent her away at age seven to become a domestic servant for relatives in Orono, Ontario.[2] She worked in that profession for 22 years before moving to the United States to work as a servant in Rochester, New York.[1] Her last Canadian employer, a physician, imparted his knowledge of hair health to her, and bequeathed her his hair tonic formula when he died.[4][5] She learned to respect scientific principles from the physician which benefitted her while making the hair tonic.[6] While a servant, Harper developed her own hair tonic after becoming concerned that the hair products on the market did more harm than good.[7] She saved enough money to begin producing the hair tonic full-time, and, upon leaving domestic service three years after her immigration to the United States, opened the first public hair salon in the region in order to help market it.[1] Her salon opened in 1888 in Rochester using her life savings of $360.[8]

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Oakville, Ontario

Oakville, Ontario

Oakville is a town in Halton Region, Ontario, Canada. It is located on Lake Ontario between Toronto and Hamilton. At its 2021 census population of 213,759, it is Ontario's largest town. Oakville is part of the Greater Toronto Area, one of the most densely populated areas of Canada.

Orono, Ontario

Orono, Ontario

Orono is a community in the Municipality of Clarington, Ontario, Canada. It is located on the southern stretch of Highway 35/115, approximately 87 km (54 mi) east of Toronto.

Rochester, New York

Rochester, New York

Rochester is a city in the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Monroe County, and the fourth-most populous in the state after New York City, Buffalo, and Yonkers, with a population of 211,328 at the 2020 United States census. Located in Western New York, the city of Rochester forms the core of a larger metropolitan area with a population of 1 million people, across six counties. The city was one of the United States' first boomtowns, initially due to the fertile Genesee River Valley, which gave rise to numerous flour mills, and then as a manufacturing center, which spurred further rapid population growth.

New York (state)

New York (state)

New York, officially the State of New York, is a state in the Northeastern United States. It is often called New York State to distinguish it from its largest city, New York City. With a total area of 54,556 square miles (141,300 km2), New York is the 27th-largest U.S. state by area. With 20.2 million people, it is the fourth-most-populous state in the United States as of 2021, with approximately 44% living in New York City, including 25% of the state's population within Brooklyn and Queens, and another 15% on the remainder of Long Island, the most populous island in the United States. The state is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east; it has a maritime border with Rhode Island, east of Long Island, as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north and Ontario to the northwest.

Company

Harper's salon, the Harper Method Hair Parlour, and many of her innovations underlie the modern concept of the hair salon. Before Harper, hairdressers used to make home visits.[7] H She used her hair tonic on herself to advertise.[4] Her floor-length hair also served as an effective marketing tool and appeared in many advertisements for her products. She hired former servants to staff her salon.[6] In 1891, at the urging of Bertha Palmer of the Palmer House fame, Harper became the first to start modern retail franchising, allowing franchisees to open salons under the Harper name.[9] Her first franchise was in Buffalo, New York.[10] Palmer wanted Harper to open her unique hair salon in Chicago in 1893 in time for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which Harper did.

Each salon was owned by a woman; the first 100 shops only went to poor women like Harper. She trained the franchisees and inspect their salons to ensure quality.[1][7]

Emphasizing customer service and comfort, Harper invented reclining shampoo chairs, which became a common feature of salons worldwide.[11] The salons offered scalp massage and child care, and they provided evening hours. The hair products her company produced were intended to be healthier than those widely available at the time and were made largely with natural products. Harper salons did not carry synthetic dyes or do chemical perms.[1]

Famous clientele

At the height of its success, her company had 500 franchises and produced a full line of hair care and beauty products.[1] Among the Harper customers were British royalty, Susan B. Anthony, Woodrow Wilson, Grace Coolidge,[7] Joseph P. Kennedy, Rose Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, George Bernard Shaw, and Ladybird Johnson.[8]

Company Legacy

Harper's own hair was the greatest advertisement for her products and services. This iconic image, and others in a similar pose, appeared in much of her early advertising.
Harper's own hair was the greatest advertisement for her products and services. This iconic image, and others in a similar pose, appeared in much of her early advertising.

In 1920, at the age of 63 Harper married Robert McBain, a 39 year old army officer.[12] They both ran the company together for 15 years until Harper retired at the age of 78 and gave control of the company to McBain.[9][13]

The Harper Method Inc. has operated under a variety of different owners. In June 1956, Robert McBain, Harper's husband, sold the enterprise to Earl Freese and Gerald Wunderlich who then made three different attempts to sell the business throughout the 1960s and 70s.[12]

In 1971, Robert Prentices, then manager of the Harper manufacturing centre in St. Catharine's, Ontario, purchased the factory assets along with Harper manufacturing and distribution rights, renaming the company Niagara Mist Marketing Ltd, also known as the Soap Factory.

On March 10, 1972, other Harper Method Inc., assets were bought by PEJ Beauty Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wilfred Academy. At the time, PEJ was one of the largest operators of trade schools in America. According to Philip Jakeway, then President of the Wilfred Academy, he hoped to expand his operation by marketing the Harper products and shops. An agreement was reached whereby Prentice would supply Harper products to Jakeway for U.S. distribution. Jakeway was unsuccessful."[14]

The last Harper Method franchise shop operated in Rochester, New York, as the country's oldest, and longest-running, beauty shop until the early 2000s. It was owned by a woman named Centa Sailer who died in 2014.[15] The site of Harper's former laboratory is now a tire warehouse.[15]

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Bertha Palmer

Bertha Palmer

Bertha Matilde Palmer was an American businesswoman, socialite, and philanthropist.

The Palmer House Hilton

The Palmer House Hilton

The Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel is a historic hotel in Chicago's Loop area. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Palmer House was the city's first hotel with elevators, and the first hotel with electric light bulbs and telephones in the guest rooms. Although the hotel has been dubbed the longest continuously operating hotel in North America, it closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened on June 17, 2021.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was an American social reformer and women's rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, Wilson changed the nation's economic policies and led the United States into World War I in 1917. He was the leading architect of the League of Nations, and his progressive stance on foreign policy came to be known as Wilsonianism.

Grace Coolidge

Grace Coolidge

Grace Anna Coolidge was the wife of the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. She was the first lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929 and the second lady of the United States from 1921 to 1923. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in teaching and joined the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Northampton, Massachusetts, to teach deaf children to communicate by lip reading, rather than by signing. She met Calvin Coolidge in 1904, and the two were married the following year.

Rose Kennedy

Rose Kennedy

Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy was an American philanthropist, socialite, and matriarch of the Kennedy family. She was deeply embedded in the "lace curtain" Irish American community in Boston. Her father, John F. Fitzgerald, served in the Massachusetts State Senate (1892–1894), in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as Mayor of Boston. Her husband, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (1934-1935) and the U.S. Maritime Commission (1937–1938), and served as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1938–1940). Their nine children included United States President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith.

St. Catharines

St. Catharines

St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada's Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in the province of Ontario. As of 2016, it has an area of 96.13 square kilometres (37.12 sq mi), 136,803 residents, and a metropolitan population of 406,074. It lies in Southern Ontario, 51 kilometres (32 mi) south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and is 19 kilometres (12 mi) inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. It is the northern entrance of the Welland Canal. Residents of St. Catharines are known as St. Catharinites. St. Catharines carries the official nickname "The Garden City" due to its 1,000 acres (4 km2) of parks, gardens, and trails.

Death and legacy

Martha died in Rochester, New York, on August 3, 1950, one month short of her 93rd birthday, survived by her husband Robert MacBain, who died on April 30, 1965, at the age of 83.[14] At time of her death there were over 350 shops. Her gravesite is at Riverside Cemetery, in Rochester, New York.[3] She was interred on August 7, 1950, under the name Martha H. McBain. Lot, No. PART 427-J.[16]

Aside from business affairs, Harper also liked cooking, travel, and golf. She was a Christian Scientist and a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Rochester, New York.[5]

She was a member of the Rochester Country Club and Oak Hill Country Club. She also studied at the University of Rochester for a few classes.[3]

In 2003, Harper was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the American Business Hall of Fame for her achievements in business.[11] She is considered remarkable for helping other servants live the American dream by hiring them as staff and allowing them to become franchisees.[17]

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Source: "Martha Matilda Harper", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Matilda_Harper.

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References
  1. ^ a b c d e f "Martha Matilda Harper" Women of the Hall. National Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  2. ^ a b "Martha Matilda Harper". rrlc.org. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  3. ^ a b c "Martha Matilda Harper." Winning the Vote, Western New York Suffragist". rrlc.org. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  4. ^ a b Parker, Sally. "Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream". University of Rochester.
  5. ^ a b "Women of History: Martha Matilda Harper". June 2020.
  6. ^ a b Plitt, Jane (September 2012). "Herper, Martha Matilda". American National Biography. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  7. ^ a b c d PBS. "Marthe Matilda Harper: Retail Franchise Network". Who Made America. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  8. ^ a b Seaton, Jaimie (11 January 2017). "Martha Matilda Harper, the Greatest Businesswoman You've Never Heard Of". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Who Made America? | Innovators | Martha Matilda Harper". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  10. ^ "Martha Matilda Harper". RMSC Presents Changemakers. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  11. ^ a b "Harper, Martha Matilda - National Women's Hall of Fame". National Women’s Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  12. ^ a b "The House Servant Who Pioneered The Franchising Business Model". Senior Strong. 2020-06-28. Retrieved 2021-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream". Rochester Review • University of Rochester. Retrieved 2021-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ a b Plitt, Jane R., Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream. 2000 ISBN 0-8156-0638-9
  15. ^ a b "RochesterSubway.com : Martha Matilda Harper – Innovator in Beauty and Business". Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  16. ^ http://www.crpc.nyrgs.org/records/41/_Interments%201949-1951,%20Book%205.pdf Page 96
  17. ^ "Permanent Waves: The Making of the American Beauty Shop / Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream: How One Woman Changed the Face of Modern Business". ProQuest 224904522. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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