Titi and Miko Branch of Miss Jessie’s – Photo courtesy of Miko Branch

Natural hair has been a phenomenon of sorts over the last few years. Miko and Titi Branch embraced this phenomenon and created hair care products for all people under the banner of the Miss Jessie’s brand. Miko continues to carry the torch for her sister Titi, who died in 2014.

Rolling out spoke with Miko recently about being a pioneer and carrying on the legacy of her sister.

Miko, you and your sister Titi Branch are the leading pioneers of the natural hair movement, for those who haven’t read your book, what does being a pioneer mean to you?
Being regarded as a pioneer is a wonderful acknowledgment of the innovative hard work and love my sister and I put into our business and the large group of people [who] were underserved in the early 2000s. Although not formally trained in areas of chemistry or business, my sister and I used our God-given talents of hairstyling, good communication and organizational skills, and our childhood lessons and grooming from our grandmother, Jessie Mae Branch, and our father, Jimmy Branch, to create a product from scratch that would change what women with a certain hair texture considered to be beautiful.

Your platform of empowering entrepreneurs by sharing your unfiltered story on how to build a business from scratch has been featured at conferences and talks around the country, if there is one key message you can pass on to entrepreneurs, what would that be?
“If we can do it, you can do it too!” Being talented and surrounded around great role models were not unique to Titi and I. There are so many of us in the world but we simply need to know about one another’s story to perhaps inspire more entrepreneurs and leaders.

As you continue to carry on the legacy of your sister Titi, what would you like others to know about her contribution to Miss Jessie’s?

Titi was fearless and her contribution to giving, innovating and creating with love will never go unnoticed if left up to me. Titi and I were fortunate to write a book together on how we did it and we knew it was important to be candid with our experience so others could truly get the real message. Every jar or tube of Miss Jessie’s still has Tit’s amazing touch. Her legacy will live on forever because she spread love to many while she was here on Earth.

Speaking of “legacy” you will be in Chicago to deliver the keynote address during the L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala on Feb. 24. You are receiving the Ground Breaker Award. Tell us more about that.
I am very excited to return to Chicago for the L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala! When my friend and colleague Jada Russell invited me to keynote the event, she shared that the purpose of the event is to “celebrate the impact and legacy of Black entrepreneurs.” This really resonated with me, given my personal journey in business. I look forward to meeting and breaking bread with the 500 entrepreneurs expected to attend, and sharing my story that I hope will uplift and inspire.

What’s next for Miss Jessie’s? Any new projects?
Miss Jessie’s has some amazing new hair care products launching as we speak. We are committed to offering products that are helpful so we made five new ones.

You can celebrate Miko Branch at The L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala on Feb. 24 at Blue Lacuna 2150 S Canalport in Chicago at 6 p.m.

Eddy "Precise" Lamarre

Eddy Lamarre aka Precise is a father, emcee, motivational speaker, blogger and performing artist. Follow his blog at precisemuzic.com