Hey Beauties!!!

Welcome back to Black Beauty Matters by Nails I Do Adore Collection. Today will be all about Madame N.A. Franklin The First Black American Hair Legend of The South! OK That’s what I call her but it is true let me fill you in.


Madame N A Franklin’s Life & Legacy


Nobia A. Franklin, black beautician and entrepreneur, was born in Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas, in 1892. Sources give the name Ira Franklin as that of her father, but her mother’s identity remains unknown. Very little is known about Franklin’s childhood experience, except that she began experimenting with hair as a girl, styling the hair of friends and neighbors in the rural cotton-farming, turkey-raising community. Nobia Franklin married W. L. McCoy on June 7, 1907, and they had a daughter named Abbie. Franklin retained her maiden name and even gave her daughter the name Franklin, indicating a separation and potential problems in the marriage. According to biographer Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Abbie did not see her father that often. Nobia Franklin nevertheless continued to pursue her career ambitions.

Beginning in the 1900s, black beauticians as well as inventors experimented with chemicals and creams to modify the composition of Afro-textured hair. At this critical juncture the African-American hair care and cosmetics industry became a multimillion-dollar arena for African-descent Americans of the United States. The industry also transformed African-American hairstyles nationally by promulgating the idea that straightened hair was more professional, cleaner, neater, and physically appealing to the eye. Successful and enterprising, Nobia Franklin marketed her products to attract residents, which allowed her to expand her fledging operations. She opened a beauty shop in Fort Worth in 1916. Expanding her business, Nobia Franklin opened the Franklin School of Beauty Culture and a manufacturing center that complemented the salon. The emerging entrepreneur in 1917 relocated her businesses from Fort Worth to Houston. Her products sold, although sales never brought her the kind of commercial wealth and popularity enjoyed by leading professionals in the budding arena of black hair care. Now calling herself Madame N. A. Franklin, the ambitious young woman, according to Blackwelder, taught her beauty students “the Franklin way.”

In 1922, in hopes of capturing a larger clientele as well as securing better opportunities for her adolescent daughter, she followed others to Chicago. She also groomed her daughter to take over the business someday. In 1927 the pair formed the N. A. Franklin Association of Beauty Culture to institutionalize her product line among nascent sales agents. The association not only trained women in hair styling and management techniques but inspired salespeople to inculcate good morals, respect, frugality, timeliness, and Christian uplift. The pair especially encouraged the sales representatives to establish salons and sell her products. To no avail, Franklin’s designs never reached the success of her predecessors and contemporaries. For one, Chicago had its share of black hair consultants and enterprises, including those entrepreneurs who succeeded in these initiatives. Competitor Marjorie Stewart Joyner, for example, managed several Madame C. J. Walker salons and some two hundred beauty schools, ultimately opening and marketing her own enterprises nationwide, including a hair curling/straightening machine. Second, even after moving to Chicago, Franklin chose not to patent her products, therefore never garnering a national following.

OK So That’s her story but here are 10 Facts That you need to Know About Madame N A Franklin Life & Legacy.

💇Franklin Beauty Institute is still in operation celebrating 102 years.

💇Franklin Beauty was known for their docu-series Houston Beauty by Oprah’s OWN Network.

💇Mme. Franklin moved, in the early 1920′s, to the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois to expand her career. There she established and operated a thriving beauty school and cosmetics business; and raised her adopted daughter, Abigail, to adulthood. Mme. Franklin died in Chicago of a heart attack in late 1934, leaving the business in the hands of her daughter, Abby, and son-in-law, J.H. Jemison.

💇When the State of Texas, in 1935, passed laws that would separate cosmetology schools and salons; and establish a regulatory agency to oversee them, the Jemisons recognized the tremendous opportunity inherent in the change. Abby and J.H. Jemison closed down the Chicago operation and traveled with their tiny daughter, Anita, to Houston. They purchased, from Mme. Franklin’s ex-husband, the beauty school business Mme. Franklin established in Houston during the late teens (1919), which had been in continuous operation.

💇n 1941, Franklin Beauty School entered new downtown Houston Headquarters in the Pilgrim Building at 222 West Dallas. The new facility, considered then, the largest beauty school in the State of Texas. Students came to Franklin from across Texas to enroll in their widely acclaimed cosmetology courses. During the 1940′s and 1950′s, Franklin Beauty School graduated hundreds of new beauticians each year. During the 1940′s and 1950′s, Franklin Beauty Schools graduated hundreds of new beauticians each year.

💇The school was known in the Black community newspapers for the regular appearance of group photographs of snappy-looking women in white uniforms with fluffy handkerchiefs in their breast pockets. Such groups, almost, always poised in front of the school, alongside a charter bus, or ascending a staircase invariably carried a caption, which informed the reader that another class of well-prepared Franklin Beauty School Students was on its way to the State Board Examination in Austin. The Franklin Beauty School Students was on its way to the State Board Examination in Austin. The Franklin Beauty School pride went deeper than external trappings: Franklin students earned and maintained their reputation for thorough preparation, with a consistently high first-time pass rate.

💇 The Jemison family continued to manufacture and sell hair preparations and lotions made from Mme. Franklin’s formulas until about 1960, when newer, more stringent FDA controls rendered the enterprise no longer cost-effective.

💇J.H. Jemison’s (Madame N A Franklin’s son in law– Remember his name) (Madame N A Franklin’s daughter at this time has stepped away from her role at the Franklin Beauty  School to raise her children) J H Jemison’s Role of School leadership of Franklin Beauty School was but one of the many contributions he made to his adopted home of Houston. An active civic and community booster, he was a member of the Houston Business and Professional Men’s Club, and a founding member of the Houston Negro Chamber of Commerce (now Houston Citizens C. of C.). Jemison was an avid golfer whose suit against the City of Houston is credited with desegregating the city’s public golf links.

💇 J H Jemison Sr. Retired in 1969. Jemison, Sr. was later called from retirement by Governor Dolph Briscoe to serve the State of Texas as the first Black member of the Texas Cosmetology Commission.

💇Franklin is undisputably the oldest continuously-operating licensed Beauty School in the State of Texas; and perhaps the oldest African-American owned business in Houston to continue in the hands of the same family. When the fourth generation of Franklin’s family entered the business she started 102 years ago.

Now you know all about the Legacy about Madame N A Franklin’s Life and Legacy please share the knowledge.

Stay Tuned Next Month for another Black Beauty Matters Blog