Black Inventors and Innovators - Marjorie Stewart Joyner
Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born October 24, 1896 in Monterey, Virginia and died December 7, 1994 at the age of 98. Joyner was the granddaughter of a slave and a slave-owner. Joyner pursued a career in cosmetology and shortly after graduation opened her own beauty salon. Joyner was the first Black woman to graduate from the A.B.MolarBeautySchool.
As a beauty salon owner Joyner was introduced to Madame CJ Walker who at the time had over 200 beauty salons and several beauty schools across the United States. After Walker’s death Joyner was hired to oversee some of Walker’s businesses specifically her Beauty Colleges as a supervisor.
During this time and from her vast experience as a beautician Joyner understood that straightening and curling hair was difficult for Black women. The process was incredibly long because only one iron could be used at a time. In addition it took a long time to heat up the iron since that process was done on a stove. One day while cooking a pot roast Joyner came up with an idea of how to curl hair using many curling irons at one time.
Joyner’s idea was connecting 16 rods to a single electric cord inside a drying hood. This meant that a woman who wanted her hair straightened or curled would wear the hood for a set amount of time to complete the process.
From concept to completion of the invention took two years and the end result was the Permanent Waving Machine and Joyner was the first Black woman to receive a patent. The final result was better than originally anticipated and better than the original curling iron because the hair would stay curled for several days.
Joyner found much success with her invention in Madame Walker’s salons and in addition the Permanent Waving Machine was a success in white salons and with white women who wanted a permanent curl. This process could cause burns so Joyner also created a protective cap for the scalp that was a great seller as well.
Because Joyner’s patent was received during her employment with Madame Walker she received no rights or royalties from her patent. However this did not deter Joyner from doing what she wanted to do. Joyner worked tirelessly to raise money for Black Colleges and at the age of 77 Joyner received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Joyner had a vision and went after it until completion and even though she did not receive any profits from her patent she still continued to do what she loved and continued to help others. Joyner was truly an amazing woman.