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Annie T. Malone

Annie T. Malone was an Entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her start in the beauty and hair industry by creating a hair product for African American women that straightened their hair without causing damage. Turnbo attended school in Peoria, Illinois, but she never finished high school.  Instead, she practiced hairdressing with her sister. When she and her family moved to Lovejoy, Illinois, Annie decided she wanted to become a “beauty doctor.”  At the age of twenty she had already developed her own shampoo and scalp treatment to grow and straighten hair.  Taking her creation to the streets, she went around in a buggy making speeches to demonstrate and promote the new shampoo.  By 1902, Annie Turnbo’s home shampoo venture thrived and she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, home of the nation’s fourth-largest African American population, to expand her business.  She was quite successful, and she trademarked her beauty products under the name “Poro.”  One of her protégés was Sarah Breedlove, who later became Madam C.J. Walker. In her lifetime, Malone became one of the nation’s wealthiest black women.  She became a leading cosmetic entrepreneur but she was also a leader in the St. Louis black community.  In 1918, Poro’s success allowed Malone to build a four-story, million dollar factory and beauty school complex in the historic black neighborhood of “The Ville,” in St. Louis.  It employed over 175 people and enabled young black women to pursue their high school and college educations by providing them with jobs and lodging. Malone became a millionaire through the sale of hair and cosmetic products, which she and her employees sold by going door-to-door.

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