The First Black Millionaire?

Posted: Apr 01 2019


There are many women that have paved the way for women of color in the beauty industry, and some that may not receive the spotlight they deserve.  I would like to highlight a woman that not only built the first African American beauty school, and the originator of making cosmetics products with diversity in mind, but also creating the straightening cream you may know as " relaxer","perm" or what the millennials call"creamy crack".

Annie's first passion was for hair care. She believed that if women of color could straighten their hair, it would help them gain greater self-respect and lead to other opportunities in the their lives. " The Great Wonderful Hair Grower" swept the industry for women of color by selling her products door to door. Malone named her brand, Poro, which stems from a West African mens society group known to enhance the body physically and spiritually. She wanted to connect her roots to her brand. How this relates to beauty and woman, I have no idea, and still trying to understand.

Early 1900's Malone business growth continued to excel, landing her in the Ville where she then developed and copyright Poro beauty products.  In 1917, she birthed the first black educational institution for cosmetology which would become known as Poro College. 

Growing up, I heard of  Madam CJ Walker more than I heard of Annie Malone. It was not until, I started researching and learning the cosmetic industry that I discovered Annie. So why have we not heard so much about her?

It was because of her highly publicized divorce, tax debt and former employee lawsuits that tarnished her name and brand.  I mean Annie gave out diamond rings to her employees who completed 5 years of service, built houses and diners for blacks, and gave out rewards, savings accounts, even purchased homes for the blacks. Those are MAJOR...I mean MAJOR boss moves, especially during that era. You not popping if the haters ain't knocking", and Annie was definitely popping.

After reaching a $200,000 settlement Annie was able to keep her business. She then moved it to Chicago where she occupied an entire city block in Chicago down as, Poro Block. Her financial struggles and lawsuits continued and soon let to company repossession by the government.

The government acquired Annie's business after being succumbed to tax debt and more. It is this very reason, Madam CJ Walker is praised for her success and considered the "first african american millionaire". However, what people don't know, is that it was Annie who formed the blueprint and served as her mentor.

Learn more about Annie Malone and her story by watching the Youtube video below!

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