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The Marvellous Martha


The Marvelous Martha” (2023) tells the story of Martha Matilda Harper (1857-1950) who started life as a domestic servant (at the age of 7!!) and who ended up pioneering the business model we know as franchising.

The first Harper Method Hair Parlor opened in 1888 in Rochester, New York. In 1893 her first franchise business was set up by Bertha Palmer in Buffalo New York.

Martha Matilda Harper actively encouraged women who were servants as she had been to set up in business. She trained the franchisees and monitored their stories.

At the height of her success, Harper had something like 500 franchises. Within each one she also sold hair care products.

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