The Poro Beauty Shoppe at 8 South High Street was one of at least three Poro beauty parlors that operated in Akron in the middle decades of the twentieth century. It was among at least three Poro shops in Akron. Poro was—along with Madame C. J. Walker, Murray’s Superior Products, and Apex—one of the four leading Black-owned beauty product companies in the 1930s. Poro emphasized cosmetology as a way for African American women to gain a degree of financial independence from low-wage domestic and laundry service as part of a broader push for social mobility. It operated Poro College, founded by Annie Malone in St. Louis in 1917, as a way to train Poro agents to spread beauty culture and techniques (along with Poro products) as a business prospect for Black women nationwide. Managed by Mary Kelly, the Poro Beauty Shoppe had four hairdressers when it opened in 1933: Helen Carmen, Francis Samples, Geneva Samples, and Rosa Thomas. Helen Carmen, pictured below, was born in Kentucky in 1909 and had clearly migrated to Akron sometime before the beauty shop opened in 1933. By 1940 she was living at 9808 Cedar Avenue in Cleveland and still working as a beautician (at Vanity Fair Shop at 7502 Cedar). She married Robert Cox in October of that year.
No further information is known.
- 1930 United States Federal Census for Hellen Carman, Kentucky, Breckinridge, Irvington, District 0012
- “Here They Are; Standing of Contestants at End of 5th Voting Period.” Call and Post. July 4, 1942.
- Marriage Record, Robert Cox (b. Brookside, AL) and Helen Carmen (b. Irvington, KY), License No. A 77266, October 21, 1940, Cuyahoga County, OH.
- Walker, Susannah. Style and Status: Selling Beauty to African American Women, 1920-1975. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007.