*Miko Branch will be the keynote speaker at the July Moving Your Business Forward Conference. Register NOW!
Miss Jessie’s is a brand synonymous with the natural hair industry. If you or someone you know has “gone natural” over the past several years, you’ve heard of it. Founded by sisters Miko and Titi Branch, Miss Jessie’s products took the curly hair market by storm in 2004 and continue to lead the market of products geared toward curly, kinky and wavy hair textures and types. Armed with curly hair product development from their salon/workshop, the sisters were able to perfect their product’s performance. And known for its stylists’ expertise in styling curly, kinky, and wavy hair of all types and textures, Miss Jessie’s Salon became the go-to place for curly hair solutions.
Under the tutelage of her African-American father, CEO and Creative Director Miko Branch was raised to be an entrepreneur. Influenced by her Japanese mother and fascinated with her childhood beauty idols (Cher, Donna Summer, and Chaka Khan), Miko learned to appreciate and pay close attention to everything that was beautiful. As she grew, she merged her love of beauty with her entrepreneurial spirit. Last year, she released “Creating a Successful Business from Scratch – Naturally,” a family memoir and business guide rich with inspirational life lessons and unique business advice from Miko and her late sister Titi.
AT: Who has inspired you in business? How has their blueprint impacted you?
Miko: Titi and I could not have achieved anything if it had not been for Madam C.J. Walker. It was our father, Jimmy Branch, who wanted to inspire us to achieve our own and to be our own bosses, so he handed both of us A’Lelia Bundles’ book “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker.” Her book was the reassurance that told us we can too. We owe a great deal of thanks to Madam C.J. Walker, who pioneered the hair movement. We are proud to have contributed our new found knowledge to many core principles Madame C.J. Walker implemented.
AT: You’re a mentor for so many who are trying to emulate you and your sister’s success by watching your example. When people are able to meet you and are looking to glean, what bit of advice do you find yourself giving most often?
Miko: The advice I find myself giving most often is ‘we did it; so can you.’ I also encourage people to just do it and forgive yourself if you make mistakes. I want people to know all of your failures are your stepping stones. You become bigger, stronger and faster with that wisdom. Don’t be afraid to learn the lesson. Pay attention to them. This way the next time around you won’t do it that way again. That’s how Titi and I built our business.
AT: The natural hair industry seems to have hit a peak and leveled off. Do you believe so? If that is the case, how is Miss Jessie’s remaining relevant – with products, technology and engagement?
Miko: Titi, and I had the privilege of being part of the naturally curly hair revolution since the 1990s. As co-owners of Miss Jessie’s, we’ve helped transform an industry as well as a culture, changing the way women around the globe embrace their natural hair texture. Together, we established a completely new product category in national chains like Target and CVS. We’re proud to say that Miss Jessie’s holds the lead, with a growing range of premium products based on intimate knowledge of the customers we serve. New media allows us to interact, engage and share our story with our customers and fans. We still mobilize grassroots networks to get the word and we continue to let our brand’s reputation build by word of mouth
AT: What legacy are you hoping to leave?
Miko: My hope for the future and legacy of the Miss Jessie’s brand, is that it will generate helpful products that work, while also continuing to encourage individuals to discover self love through embracing their natural beauty.
AT: Tell us something we’d be surprised to know about you.
Miko: After a long day of work, my favorite things to come home to are my son and a home-cooked meal that has been made with love.
– Katrice L. Mines