Black History Month: Celebrating Trailblazers In The Beauty Industry

This Black History Month we want to celebrate Black history in the Beauty Industry, highlighting its pioneers, achievements, cultural influences, and a look at the bright future ahead.

Pioneering Black Beauty Entrepreneurs

There have been many black beauty entrepreneurs who have forever left their mark on the industry, pioneering the way forward for modern brands. Here is a look at perhaps the two most influential individuals who revolutionized beauty products for black women.

Annie Malone: Revolutionized Hair Care and Cosmetics for Black Women in the Early 20th Century

Annie was an American businesswoman, inventor, and philanthropist. She developed a successful line of products that were advertised to help improve scalp health and promote hair growth. One product, “Special Hair Grower” was touted for its ability to straighten hair without damaging the follicle. Learn more about her products including cold cream, and face powders in a variety of shades here.

With this success she founded and developed a prominent commercial and education enterprise, Poro College, centered on cosmetics for African American women. Poro College was a training center to nurture and style black hair and was also a significant source of employment for African American women. She overcame hurdles facing black women in a segregated America.  Over the company’s lifespan, tens of thousands of products were sold worldwide.

“From an early age, Malone understood that for African American women, appearance and grooming represented more than their personal style. It could also indicate a woman’s class and social standing. She realized that improving hair health could also have a positive effect on the lives of African Americans” according to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Please read the full article on her life and achievements here.

Madam C.J. Walker, (born Sarah Breedlove): A Hair Care Tycoon and Philanthropist Who Built a Legacy of Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

“ I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them! “

Madam C.J. Walker. 

Madam C.J. Walker spent many years as a laundress and was struggling with hair issues of her own when she was inspired to join Poro College. She was a successful Poro Sales agent working for Annie Malone’s company.

Once she married and moved to Denver Colorado, she decided to take the leap and start on her own with a new and improved formula, she called it “Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower”. The formula consisted of petrolatum, coconut oil, beeswax, copper sulfate, carbolic acid, precipitated sulfur, and perfume. Setting herself apart from the competition she used her likeness on the packaging to promote black beauty to consumers. She used door-to-door salesmen, newspaper ads, and community gatherings to promote her brand.

“Open your own shop; secure prosperity and freedom.” read one of Walker’s brochures according to, read the full article here.   She was selling not only products but a lifestyle. She established herself as a “hair culturalist”, pioneering the first lifestyle brand for African-American women. She founded a beauty school, Lelia College, and created a sales structure (creating a national association) that kept her agents loyal with incentives.

In 1910 she incorporated the new Walker Manufacturing Company, headquartered at a state-of-the-art factory and school in Indianapolis. She chose the location due to its proximity to rail lines to make distribution and logistics practical.  The company trained over 40,000 agents at many hair culture colleges she founded or set up through already established black institutions. She developed a complete “Walker System”, a product line with shampoos, cold creams, witch hazel, diets, hot combs, and other cosmetics.

Looking Forward: A Brighter Future for Black Beauty

Annie Malone and Madame C.J. Walker paved the way for modern black beauty brands. There is growing visibility and influence of black-owned brands: from the natural hair movement that embraces textured hair, skincare designed specifically for melanin-rich skin concerns, and the rise of inclusive makeup brands that cater to diverse complexions.

TaikiUSA celebrates and supports the rising stars in this category and the new generations of Black Beauty entrepreneurs. TaikiUSA supports a more inclusive Beauty Industry. Are you interested in working with us? Please reach out here.