She Was The US’s First Black Woman Millionaire

anne m pope turnbo malone founder
Via Picryl
Adé Hennis
May 24, 2024

In the late 19th century, no products were specially designed for Black hair. Having grown up styling her older sister’s hair, Annie Turnbo Malone realized she could meet that need.

Malone developed her Poro brand of cosmetic products, advertised to help improve scalp health and stimulate hair growth. By 1918, she founded and ran Poro College, a cosmetology school that hired Black women to teach Black hair care.

With approximately 75,000 women working in her school and franchised outlets by 1926, Malone was committed to contributing to her community. So when she was in trouble, her community came to her rescue.

Malone’s estranged husband was determined to take control of half of her company in their divorce settlement. But  Poro employees, Mary McLeod Bethune, church leaders, and the National Association of Colored Women helped Malone negotiate a different settlement that allowed her to keep Poro.

Annie Turnbo Malone’s mission wasn’t to become a millionaire but to solve a community problem she had the talent to address. We don’t have to be rich to be problem-solvers. All we need is each other.