Schenae Rourk on Annie Malone

“If you want to go far, go together.”

ANNIE MALONE was one of the first African-American women to become a multi-millionaire. Though she never finished high school, Annie combined her passion for chemistry and a mind for business to create a wildly successful beauty enterprise that trained and employed African-American women across the country and gave many a path to wealth and stability. Never forgetting the difficulties she faced growing up Annie Malone was a dedicated philanthropist, building and funding schools, community centers, orphanages and more. SCHENAE ROURK tells the story of this visionary, resilient woman who built an empire and used it for the betterment of her community.

Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Schenae Rourk

Schenae Rourk is President and CEO of Redwood Resources, a strategic procurement, diversity and inclusion consulting firm. Ms. Rourk is active in the small business community and community at large. She serves in many advisory roles for the advancement of minority and women owned businesses. She also serves as the volunteer VP on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners – California and is the former President of the local chapter of National Association of Women Business Owners. Ms. Rourk is also the recipient of WTS-LA Rosa Parks Diversity Award for 2020.

Featured Woman

Annie Malone

Annie Malone was born in 1869, the tenth of eleven kids. Orphaned early on, she was raised by an older sister. She did well in school, but health problems prevented her from finishing high school. She loved chemistry, fashion and make up, which led her to create her own hair care and make-up products. In order to sell them, she created her own distribution system by employing “walkers,” or door-to-door saleswomen. She founded Poro College, an institution dedicated to cosmetology that doubled as a community center for her “walkers” and where Madame C.J. Walker was a student and “walker.” One of America’s first millionaire businesswoman, Annie lived modestly but gave money freely to Howard University of Medicine and the black wing of the YMCA. She established the Annie Malone Children and Family Center in St. Louis. Her business thrived throughout the 30s and 40s. The Annie Malone Children and Family Services Center is ongoing today.