Rose Meta Morgan was born in Edward, Mississippi, in 1912 and grew up in Chicago. Years later, Morgan rented a booth in a neighboring salon and started working full-time after graduating from Morris School of Beauty. Morgan dressed the hair of singer/actress Ethel Waters in 1938, and she was so thrilled that she requested Morgan to stay with her in New York City. Morgan relocated to the city because she was enamored with its glitz and glam, and within six months, she had enough customers to launch her own beauty salon. Rose owned and operated the world’s largest African American beauty shop by 1942.
Morgan disagreed with beauty standards that say kinky hair is unattractive, saying everyone has beauty. She started selling her own cosmetics and putting on fashion shows. Morgan purchased a new building as a result of her growing prosperity. Rose Morgan’s House of Beauty, which opened in 1955 in a more fashionable setting, added a dressmaking section and a charm school to the existing salon offerings. She added a wig salon in the early 1960s. She employed and trained nearly 3,000 people over the course of her career.
Morgan was one of the founders of the Freedom National Bank, New York’s sole black-owned commercial bank, in 1965. She retired in the 1970s. Morgan died in 2008 at 96.