Annie Malone was born August 9, 1869, in Metropolis, Illinois one of a dozen children. Her parents died when she was very young so she was raised by an older sister in Peoria, Illinois.
Malone’s dream was to create a product that would enhance the beauty of Black women’s hair. She focused her high school studies on chemistry and experimented with different preparations for hair grooming. Malone created her first product, Wonderful Hair Grower, in the late 1800s. The fame of her products and teaching methods spread.
In 1902, Malone moved to St. Louis. She promoted her products by going door-to-door to convince women that she could successfully treat their hair and scalp problems. She also recruited and trained women to be beauticians and sales agents. Some 75,000 agents graduated from Poro College, the school she founded in 1917. One of her early sales agents was Sarah Breedlove, who became the famed Madam C. J. Walker.
Malone built a million-dollar, three-story building that occupied a city block in St. Louis. By 1920 more than 200 employees worked in her factory and mail-order department. In 1930 she moved the college to Chicago. Malone, along with Madam C. J. Walker are regarded as two of the earliest Black women millionaires in the United States.
Annie Malone’s business closed in the early 1950’s, and she died on May 10, 1957. In May of every year, a parade is held in her honor in St. Louis, Missouri.