Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born in Monterey, Virginia, on October 24, 1896. She was the grandchild of a white slave master and an enslaved black woman. She was born into an impoverished family and went to Chicago at sixteen to attend A.B. Molar Beauty School. She was the first African American to graduate from that college in 1916.
The Permanent Wave Machine was invented by Joyner, giving her a notable place in cosmetology history. In 1945, she and Mary Bethune McLeod co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association, which helped create Illinois’ first cosmetology legislation.
Joyner founded a salon on South State Street in Chicago after graduating. She met Madam C.J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur with a cosmetics empire in her salon. Joyner went to work for Walker and rose through the ranks to become the company’s national adviser, supervising 200 beauty schools.
Joyner educated around 15,000 hairdressers throughout her 50-year career. Joyner’s creation and a duplicate of her original salon were included in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1987. Marjorie Stewart Joyner died of heart failure on December 7, 1994, in her Chicago home at the age of 98.