Annie Turnbo Pope Malone


Annie Turnbo Malone was born in 1869 in Illinois. As a young woman, only one generation away from slavery, she discovered that there were few cosmetic products available for African American women. Women of her time used products such as goose fat, oil and other harsh products to achieve the looks they wanted. Through her interest in chemistry Malone set about experimenting with concoctions of her own. She developed a line of products and by 1900 was soon selling them door to door as well as in local stores. She also invented and patented in 1900 a pressing comb to straighten hair--a device still in use till this day. In 1902 she moved to St. Louis, Missouri and began expanding her so-called Poro line of hair products. Malone also used what are now standard business practises--press releases, advertisements and use of women who were hired to both sell the products and lend personal testimony to their efficacy. One of these women was Madame C.J Walker who would become known as America's first African American Millionaires--although there is contention as to whether Malone deserves the claim.
Malone's empire continued to thrive into the twentieth century with the opening of Poro College the first cosmetology school for African Americans. By the 1920's Malone's wealth was estimated to be around $14 million. Malone became a generous philanthropist donating large funds to different causes. She died in 1957.


Cherokee Grandma Spider Steals the Sun

References:

Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made A Difference by Jessie Carney Smith (Visible Ink Press, 1993) p.363.
Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors by Otha Richard Sullivan (John Wiley, 2002) pp. 31-34.

Web Sites:

Annie Turnbo Malone
Entrepreneur Philanthropist
Ville Neighborhood St. Louis
Malone's Philanthropy
Biography

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