Annie Turnbo Malone
Born in 1869 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 Caribbean. In 1918, Malone built a four-story, million dollar factory and beauty school complex in St. Louis which employed over 175 people, including one protege Sarah Breedlove, who would later become known as Madam C.J. Walker.
From 1919 to 1943, Malone served as board president of the St. Louis Colored Orphan’s Home. She had donated the first $10,000 to build the orphanage’s new building in 1919. During the 1920s, Malone’s philanthropy included financing the education of two full-time students in every historically black college and university. Her $25,000 donation to Howard University was among the largest gifts the university had received by a private donor of African descent.
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Poro College, in St. Louis, was the first educational institution in the United States dedicated to the study and teaching of black cosmetology. Curriculum included instructions to students on personal style and how to present themselves at work such as: walking, talking, and style of dress designed to maintain a solid public persona. The school graduated over 75,000 agents worldwide, including the Caribbean.