SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Willie Morrow is a pioneer in Black hair care. His inventions influenced the African American culture across the U.S., but they started in San Diego.
"He had the foresight not just to create the style but the service so it can enrich an industry," says his daughter Cheryl Morrow.
His invention of the Afro Tease, commonly known as 'the pick,' took off in the 1960s.
"Prior to 1962, you couldn't buy a comb exclusively for your cultural affinity," says Morrow. "While that whole era was going on, San Diego black panthers had the best afros."
The "Eze Teze," pronounced Easy Tease, became another popular item. Mr. Morrow designed it to have the shape of the Afro coil.
His daughter says her father knew the importance of branding.
"He was innovative because he actually put the design and imprinted his name into the comb. No other company in history did that."
Mr. Morrow didn't stop there. He came up with the idea of the Blow Out Comb. It's an everyday item still used today to dry and straighten the hair. The attachment latches onto the blow dryer. The invention of the blowout comb sparked Mr. Morrow to create another popular wavy hairstyle.
"Most people don't realize Europeans were already permanent weaving. The problem was afro textures could not get smooth enough to go around the roller," says Morrow. "The blowout, the wet setting of the afro… that funneled what we know as 'the curl.'"
The formal name is the California Curl. From that style, Morrow created an entire hair care line. But his daughter says his most significant accomplishment is creating a complex for black businesses to thrive.
Mr. Morrow is now retired, but his daughter is working to continue his legacy.