I could not let Black History Month go by without recognizing the Black women and men who made an impact on the future of our nation. As an African American woman and a double minority, I take it very seriously the paths that were paved by previous generations and my ancestors to make sure I have the rights and freedoms that I have today. Too often we get overwhelmed and involved in our own errands and personal problems, and we forget to appreciate the little things in life. So today I have put together a post that highlights 8 Fashion and Beauty Inventions created by African Americans.
1. Hair Brush by Lyda Newman
Lyda Newman was a hairdresser and civil rights activist that patented and improved the original model of the hair brush in 1898. Every woman can appreciate this invention, without it, bedhead would be the only hairstyle anyone would be sporting!
2. Pressing Comb by Annie Malone, Walter Sammons
The hot comb was originally developed in France and patented by Annie Malone. Walter Sammons went on to improve the hot comb, by improving its straightening capabilities. There is not a better hair tool on the planet that gets my edges straighter than a pressing comb.
3. Shoe Assembly Machine by Jan Matzeliger
Jan Matzeliger started as an apprentice in a shoe factory where he learned a cordwaining trade, where he made mold of his customers feet in order to create shoes for them. In an effort to create a faster process for handmaking shoes, Matzeliger created the lasting machine, which allowed the operator to create 700 pairs of shoes in a day. I absolutely love shoes! If I find a pair that I love under $20 you can bet that I will probably grab them.
4. Garment Hanger (Skirt and Trouser) by Archia Ross
Ross was a laundress who created a hanger to hold trousers and skirts equipped with and loops. My closet is not in the best shape right now (never ending laundry), but I could not keep growing my wardrobe without the right tools!
5. Thermal Hair Curlers by Solomon Harper
The hair curlers created by Solomon Harper relied on heat and electricity (thermostatic) to curl hair. A hairdresser came along after him and created another hair tool that simply relied on heat.
6. Curling Iron by Theora Stephens
That hairdresser was Theora Stephens and she created the curling iron in 1980. The curling iron was more efficient and of course only needed heat. Every woman has used a curling iron at one point in time in her life, everyone loves a good bouncy curl!
7. Sanitary Belt (Maxi Pad) by Mary Kenner
Too often I think of where my life would be if pads and tampons did not exist and the thought honestly makes me cringe. Mary Kenner invented the sanitary belt in 1856 along with other hygienic products. Her creation was acknowledged 30 years later because her patent was originally rejected, once the inventor was found to be African American. I thank Kenner so much for providing women with a choice and a better way to take care of their bodies during that time of the month!
8. Early Method of Dry Cleaning by Thomas Jennings
Thomas Jennings is actually known as the first African American to receive a patent for an invention. He was a tailor and abolitionist who wanted to find a better way to clean and care for his customers clothes. Similar to today, customers were damaging their clothes attempting to clean them which resulted in them discarding items that were barely worn. Jennings created a process to clean and care for various fabrics and called it “dry scouring,” which is now known as dry cleaning.