Annie Malone – Natural Hair Pioneer & Businesswoman

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Annie Turnbo Malone (1877 - 1957)

Raygan Bell, Social Media Editor

Black women with natural hair know how important it is to find the perfect products. Definition, moisture and frizz control are a must.

But have you ever wondered who laid the groundwork for the natural hair community? Who are the OG’s of hair care? You most likely thought of Madam C.J. Walker who overshadowed one of the true natural hair pioneers.  

Annie Malone, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and scientist who successfully developed and marketed hair products that straighten black women’s hair without permanent damage. 

She was born on August 9, 1869, in Metropolis, Illinois as the tenth of eleven children. Her older sister was forced to take responsibility and raise Malone and her siblings after their parents’ unfortunate death.

In school, Malone always had a fascination with chemistry. When she became an adult, she decided to mix her love for chemistry and passion for hair and create a chemical product to straighten natural hair without causing damage to the scalp or hair follicles. Malone’s hair care line soon expanded and she created several other products such as the famous hot/pressing comb that we use today.

When Malone was attempting to market her new products to the world, she was denied media coverage because black women and black businesses on television were practically unheard of. But with hard work comes great success. Malone decided to sell door-to-door which led to steady growth and eventually a national company. 

Malone gained so much traffic that she moved her business to St. Louis, Missouri in 1902. She then hired and trained 3 assistants because as black women, they were denied access to basic training. Malone was known to always be a leader who helped other women in the community create their own businesses and success. 

Many aren’t aware that Annie Malone recruited Madam C.J. Walker who was a former washwoman. Malone was overshadowed by Walker once she created similar products and distribution methods. 

Malone became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in America during her time. She provided several opportunities for African American women across the country by popularizing and opening a cosmetology school, Poro College. 

A pioneer, leader, and also one of the first black millionaires. that helped lay the groundwork for several African American women. With determination and perseverance, Malone created a natural hair empire all on her own.

To learn more about Annie Malone and her success, head over to the Jagwire’s Twitter and watch a small clip created by Raygan Bell, Taylor Cross, and Joshua Stubblefield!