ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)— If you think the story of Annie Malone is just about an orphanage then you don't know much about her. She was born and raised in Metropolis, Illinois. she came to St. Louis to seek her fortune. She produced a line of hair care products for African American women that would enrich her life.
"The Wonderful Great Hair Grower was the name of her beauty product and it replaced all kinds of other fairly macabre treatments for hair. Eventually though she really figured out how to make a really successful business." said Dr. Robert Archibald of the Missouri History Museum.
Eventually she would create an entire line of beauty products called Poro. She also started Poro college in North St. Louis to train her sales people and produce her products.
"By the 1930's she had representatives in every state of the union, she had representatives in Canada, the Philippines and a number of other foreign counties and became extraordinarily wealthy." said Dr. Robert Archibald.
She used that wealth for good contributing to many African American causes and institutions including the St. Louis colored orphans home. They later renamed it the Annie Malone home.
"She was a model and an exception to her times, both as a female and as an African American she faced all sorts of hurdles to success. She overcame them all and became one of the wealthiest women in the United States and she remained particularly interested in women's issues and childrens issues." said Dr. Robert Archibald.
Despite her success, the person best known for helping pioneer the business of African American beauty products is Madame CJ Walker. What's not widely known is Madame Walker received her training from Annie Malone.