In the ’90s, while many women were still making appointments to touch up relaxers, Miko and Titi Branch were just trying to find products that could provide some TLC to their curls. And they were coming up very short in that search. The sisters, who have a Japanese mother and African-American father, would try to go to salons, but all stylists wanted to do was “tame” their thick hair. So they started doing their own strands, and eventually, started making their own products to moisturize them. They went from cooking up concoctions in a Brooklyn brownstone to trying to share those products and their curly hair expertise in their Soho salon. It was a success.
Miko Branch, 45, is sharing that success story in the March issue of Black Enterprise, which she graces the cover of. She pointed out that the success she and late sister Titi had with the Miss Jessie’s salon and eventually with the products came from the fact that they identified a major need for their goods and created their signature formulas from there.
“When we set out to come up with solutions for curls, kinks, waves, and natural hair, there was nothing in the marketplace,” Branch told the magazine. “Natural hair was categorized, for the most part, as braids, locks, or a free-form fro. Nothing really to embrace your natural curls.”
The products would eventually expand to big retailers like Target and CVS, going from 225 stores to supplying more than 1,000 stores with their beloved Curly Pudding, Curly Buttercreme, Curly Meringue, their Rapid Recovery Treatment and more, all under a brand named after their paternal grandmother. Miko and Titi would go on to be innovators when it came to natural hair, specifically the curly hair faction, and develop a multimillion-dollar company.
Miko says that if she and Titi could do it, other Black women entrepreneurs surely can start small and expand greatly.
“You don’t even need privileges or degrees,” Branch told Black Enterprise. “We didn’t have MBAs and we didn’t get bank loans or find angel investors. What we had was a seed of an idea and a solid foundation of family and influences to learn from and observe. If we could do it, you can do it too.”
Not only is Branch on the cover of this month’s Black Enterprise, but she will also be part of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, leading a discussion on “Making Big Bucks in Specialized Markets.” Find out more about the summit, taking place in Miami Beach from May 4-7, here.