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San Diego Black hair pioneer creates multi-million-dollar empire

Dr. Willie Morrow began as a San Diego barber in 1959 to proudly owning California Curl Company which created the “Jheri Curl” earlier than it was made standard and the Afro decide

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Tonight on News 8 at 6 p.m., meet an area hair styling legend and entrepreneur, all part of San Diego’s Black History.

At 4165 Market Street in San Diego, there stands a middle for employment coaching, however proper up till the mid-1990’s, the 2-story constructing was the very website for Dr. Willie Morrow’s barber shop and hair empire.

“He needed every little thing a posh, he needed downstairs, a salon and the sweetness parlor, after which he had on the west finish, the newspaper, after which above that on the second ground, he had the radio station,” stated Morrow’s daughter Cheryl Morrow.

Cheryl Morrow smiles as she displays how her father rose from poverty to making a multi-million-dollar hair empire.

“My dad at one level had about 220 workers,” Cheryl stated.

Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama because the son of sharecroppers, Willie Morrow was a self-taught barber and chemist, who is aware of hair just like the again of his hand and would say “I’m a hair guy, Black hair, straight hair, curly hair, wavy hair you name it.”

Morrow was featured by KPBS in 2016 at 76 years outdated on the museum exhibit in his honor on the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. His humble hair beginnings began in 1959 in a pink velvet barber chair, the place he minimize the native Black leaders hair together with the primary Black choose in San Diego County, Judge Earl Gilliam, and even Michael Jordan.

Morrow traveled world wide within the Seventies, contracted by the Department of Defense to show and minimize hair on navy bases and in struggle zones, the place he additionally wrote a number of hair styling and barbering method books.

“He had textbooks that confirmed how and footage and manuals, and he did {a magazine} known as “Curly Cues” for the navy,” Cheryl stated.

Outside of Willie Morrow’s iconic barbershop within the 1960’s to 1990’s on Market Street, stood a 10-ft. tall Afro pic, the device he got here to invent.

“He minimize off a comb that he was given a U.S. utility patent for known as the Eze-teze, after which he minimize these tooth off and put it on a blow dry nozzle snout, nailed it after which that served because the blow dry nasal comb, the place you had a comb on the finish of your blow dryer,” Cheryl stated.

Dr. Willie Morrow’s patented hair merchandise are nonetheless on sale immediately. He manufactured his personal hair care line from a Lemon Grove warehouse known as the “California Curl Company,” the place he created Morrow’s Curl Milk, Curl Repair, Cream chilly wave and holding spray.

Morrow’s face was additionally featured on the merchandise, and he had an on-screen function in Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” in 2009.

“He was really not simply the barber, however he was the scientist, so he may make up stuff,” Cheryl stated.

Always inventing, Morrow is claimed to have originated the favored 1980’s hair fashion the “Jheri Curl” earlier than its namesake creator Jheri Redding.

Cheryl says “Mr. Morrow’s curl model, is eight years earlier than the commercialization one we all know as Jheri.”

Not stopping there, Dr. Morrow made it into media, beginning the San Diego Monitor in 1986, which Cheryl stated was a approach to give inexpensive promoting to Black companies.”

Cheryl now takes over the newspaper and oversees the California Curl Company. In 1979, Willie Morrow ran San Diego’s first Black radio station 92.5 for over a decade earlier than the economic system shifted.

“It started to say no, I believe that’s one in every of my father’s regrets, you already know, the not with the ability to stick with it Black radio,” Cheryl stated.

Cheryl carries on the torch in her father’s retirement, managing and storing his a whole bunch of hair instruments and tools, a few of which at the moment are being featured at a museum in Kent, Ohio.

From sizzling combs and curling irons to cast-iron thermal ovens from the late 1800’s, the household has a warehouse crammed with hair relics.

Cheryl does a podcast known as “Willie’s Barbershop,” which highlights her hair hero, her father, who’s a San Diego Black hair pioneer and retired at 82 years outdated.

“Mr. Morrow prides himself, he says he by no means used his Social Security quantity, he doesn’t know, he didn’t have a Plan B, and so he goes all in when you’ve gotten a dream, and that’s to me the final word legacy,” Cheryl stated.