A chemist and entrepreneur, Annie Turnbo Malone became a millionaire by successfully developing and marketing hair products for black women in St. Louis. She used her wealth to promote the advancement of African Americans and gave away most of her money to charity.
Born on August 9, 1869, in Metropolis, Illinois, Annie Minerva Turnbo was the tenth of eleven children born to Robert and Isabella Turnbo. Her parents died when she was young, and an older sister raised her. Annie attended high school in Peoria, Illinois, but she was often sick and missed class. Though she did not graduate, she did discover she was good at chemistry.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Annie Turnbo developed a hair product to straighten African American women’s hair without damaging it like the products then available. She eventually created an entire line of hair care and beauty products specifically for black women. Recognizing she needed a larger market in which to sell her products, Turnbo moved her business to St. Louis in 1902. The city’s economy was booming in preparation for the 1904 World’s Fair…
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