Annie Turnbo Malone: Ten Interesting Facts


Have you heard of Annie Turnbo Malone? Did you know that before Madam C.J. Walker made millions by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for Black women, there was a Black businesswoman/entrepreneur, chemist, inventor, and philanthropist named Annie Turnbo Malone? If not, then read on to learn ten interesting facts about Annie Turnbo Malone, a visionary who helped pioneer today’s multi-billion-dollar beauty industry.

Ten Interesting Facts About Annie Turnbo Malone

1.) Annie was born in Metropolis, Illinois (yes, where Superman is from) on August 9, 1877.  She was the daughter of Robert and Isabella Turnbo. Her parents had been enslaved, but her mother escaped enslavement in Kentucky and found refuge in Metropolis, while her father, Robert, went off to fight in the Civil War.

2.) She was the eleventh of twelve children.

3.) During the 1890s, Annie patented the modern-day hot comb.

1920s electrical hot comb heater and comb. Photo credit:

4.) By the beginning of the 1900s, Annie invented her own line of non-damaging haircare products for African American women.  She named her product “Wonderful Hair Grower.”

5.) In 1902, Turnbo moved to St. Louis, Missouri. She used door-to-door sales and marketing tactics to rapidly grow her hair care business and opened her first haircare shop.

6.) By 1904, Annie employed and trained Madam C.J. Walker aka Sarah Breedlove Walker as a sales agent in St. Louis and Denver, Colorado.

7.) As a result of competition, in 1906 Annie branded her Wonderful Hair Grower line of products Poro. Poro is a West African word that symbolizes physical and spiritual growth.

Poro Haircare products by Annie Turnbo Malone Photo credit:

8.) In 1917, Annie founded Poro College in St. Louis, Missouri. It was the first center in America dedicated to the study and teaching of Black cosmetology. The building included a manufacturing plant, a retail store where Poro products were sold, business offices, a 500-seat auditorium, dining and meeting rooms, a roof garden, dormitory, gymnasium, bakery, and chapel. The college employed 300 people locally and 75,000 agents nationally.

An image of “Poro Corner” from a souvenir booklet about Poro College Company, 1920-27. Photo credit:

9.) By the 1920s, Annie had become a self-made multi-millionaire with over $14M in assets. She was the wealthiest African American in the country and the first person in Missouri to own a Rolls Royce.

10.) Annie was a philanthropist.  She gave thousands of dollars to the local Black YMCA and the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. She was also a benefactor of the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home, serving as president on the board of directors from 1919 to 1943. In 1922 she helped the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home buy a facility at 2612 Goode Avenue. The home was later renamed Annie Malone Children’s Home, and it supported two college students at every Black land-grant college in the US.

Annie Malone Children’s Home and Family Service Center. Photo credit:

What did you think about these interesting facts about Annie Turnbo Malone? What would you add to this extraordinary list? Want to know even more about Annie’s life and legacy? Link: (1133) Annie Malone | Living St. Louis – YouTube.

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Nikita Gupta

Creator and CEO at Growing Up Gupta
Hi, I'm Nikita Gupta! I'm a Business Executive (MBA) who became a SAHM, author, serial entrepreneur, writer and blogger. The multicultural lifestyle blog, Growing Up Gupta is dedicated to discussing interracial/intercultural dating and marriage, multicultural parenting, food recipes, culture and much much more! Yahoo Allyship Partner. Co-creator of the first America Black History box for kids, Find my books at Amazon!
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