S.B. Fuller: Turned $25 loan in to $170 million in 1950s.

From Poverty to Multi-Million-Dollar Empire

Samuel B. Fuller. was a black American entrepreneur from a very young age he was so broke that he had to drop out of school and work to survive. He was born into a family of Louisiana sharecroppers.

He started very early at the age of 9 he was going door to door selling products and had high hopes of making millions.

At the age of 15 he and his family move to Nashville. His mother passed away two years after the move, Leaving him to look after his six siblings which was very tough. Relief organization wanted to help him out but he refused and turned them down because he did not want his neighbors to think they needed help or a handout he was very strong minded. He made a decision that nothing can stop them and wanted to make it in their own with no help.

He faced many challenges in his journey once he relocated to Chicago he became a manager of a coal yard during the depsession and he was also working as a insurance agent in a black owned firm.

Despite securing a good job he decided to quit and build his own business.

Using a $25 loan he obtained by using his car as a security deposit (about $375 in 2019 money), he started his own business. His wife name was Lestine Thornton and they went on to purchase a soap load with the money he had selling it door to door. It was working out so he invested another $1000. His customer base was growing in large numbers at a fast pace and they were largely arrived black families on the south side of Chicago. He was promoted to manager at Commonwealth while growing his own business to include a line of 30 products, as well as other salesmen.

After many years of hard work it paid off and he opened his own factory in 1947. He saved his supplier from bankruptcy by purchasing the factory.

He also purchased black newspaper such the Pittsburgh and the new York age. He left his footprint after purchasing Chicago Regal Theater.

Fuller was the richest black American in 1950s, his cosmetic company was bring around $18M annually in 1950 dollars that’s over $170 Million worth in 2020. His sales team was over 5000 Members and a third of them where white.


He went to say

“Negroes are not discriminated against because of the color of their skin. They are discriminated against because they have not anything to offer that people want to buy” caused some black leaders to call for a boycott of Fuller products. The boycotts were largely unsuccessful, but his reputation was quite tarnished in the black community.

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