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Beauty Blog

Aly Phant's Black Elephants Blog

Profile: Annie Turnbo Malone

Black Elephants

Who is Annie Turnbo Malone?

During your research from last weekend, this name should have come up as Madame C. J. Walker's first employer. So who is she? Well, she is the daughter of escaped slaves born August 9, 1869. After losing her parents at a young age, she lived with her siblings and learned chemistry while attending high school.


Around 1900, Malone began taking great interest in hair and hair care. With her chemistry background, she developed new products for the African American hair texture including non-damaging hair straighteners, special hair oils, and hair growth stimulators. Her hair care product line became an instant hit.

To grow her business, she moved her business to St. Louis in 1902 in preparation for the 1904 World's Fair. Two years later, she rebranded her line under the name Poro and exploded onto the national scene. Some say Malone is the true first female millionaire and the real pioneer in launching the African American hair care industry.

Unfortunately, her legacy suffered because of her high profile divorce, multiple lawsuits from former employees, and having no offspring to take over the business. However, maybe we can help Annie Turnbo Malone finally climb out from under Walker's shadow. Spread the word this month on who she is and why she matters!

Have a blessed week!