Hair Pioneer

Haircare pioneer Annie Turnbo Malone (1869-1957) was born to former slaves. Illinois-born Malone was truly a pioneer in Black haircare. She had a particular affinity for hairdressing and chemistry, and by the age of 20 had developed her own shampoos and scalp treatments to grow and straighten Black hair. By 1902 she had become a successful haircare entrepreneur, traveling and doing demonstrations showcasing her products. By 1906 she had trademarked her brand as Poro Products, and had a dedicated client base throughout the US, Africa, South America, and the Caribean. In 1918, Malone built a four-story, million dollar factory and beauty school complex in St. Loius which employed over 175 people, including one protege Sarah Breedlove, who would later become known as Madam C.J. Walker. Malone would go on to become one of the nation’s wealthiest Black women, a leading entrepreneur in cosmetics, and generous philanthropist. Her Poro brand grew internationally by 1926, with outlets in North and South America, Africa, and the Phillipines, and over 70,000 employees. At the height of her empire, Malone was worth over $14 million – a considerable amount of wealth, even by today’s standards.