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Black Capitalists 5: The Branch Sisters' Triumphs and Tragedy
For two young Black women in America, the goal to produce the best hair care products on the market came to fruition. Sisters and co-founders and co-chief executive officers (CEO) of Miss Jessie’s, Miko and Titi Branch have carved out a lane for themselves in the competitive field of hair enhancements. Since its inception, the brand has introduced products such as Miss Jessie’s Products Curly Pudding® and Curly Meringue® to add to their repertoire. So, where did this pair get the gumption to develop, market, and sell quality products? The gumption required for these African-American ladies to excel in the business realm started with the inspiration of their paternal grandmother; the woman whose name is on their product line, Jessie Mae Branch (neé Pittman). Her no-nonsense, tough love approach matched with her efficiency cooking food and to prepare concoctions for hair. Passed down from this upstanding woman, Miko and Titi implemented the wisdom of Miss Jessie and carry on her legacy with every sale. Now, they both solidified their place in business history as independent entrepreneurs constantly innovating and creating new ways to trade with their clients.
The selfish greed which both sisters have exhibited remain the hallmark of their creative and versatile company. Their drive to accomplish and not to beat others is what has sustained them thus far. By innovating consistently the products which must pass the quality test and live up to Miss Jessie’s namesake, Miko and Titi have attained the wealth and glory that they deserve. Knowledge of their surroundings and the possibilities of a hair product business requires has only bolstered the duo’s resolve to do more. Was it a welfare check that these two intelligent, beautiful Black women received to grow or start their business? What political ties to the cronies in Wall Street surrounded this pair in order to finance their fledgling brand? Both women would attest that no government agency aided in the formation of this formidable firm. Their business did not spring from the drawing board of some bureaucrat in Washington, DC. Instead, their formulation of Miss Jessie's arose from the womb of necessity. Miko wished to keep her hair natural, curly, and bouncy when faced with maternal tasks like giving her son a bath, knowing that the water would be brutal on straightened hair. After searching for a product that would retain the beauty of natural hair and coming up with little to no results, Miko teamed with Titi to fashion a company where this product would see the light of day. As a result of determination, dedication and motivation, these sisters found a niche market. By becoming an impromptu chemist, Titi sought out to develop a hair product which would satisfy the unique hair textures of virtually every woman.
Nowhere in their extraordinary story does the notion of a politician who “allowed” them to own a business ever surface. It’s all Miko and Titi. Their care and sense and profound understanding of their product and its potential prompted them to deliver the goods early and often.
Sadly, Titi Branch died by suicide on December 4, 2014. In the most fortunate of circumstances apparently, with a thriving multi-million-dollar enterprise and an allegedly supportive boyfriend, Titi found that life was just not worth living being mentally and financially abused by her mate. The fate of the Miss Jessie’s brand rests now in the hands of Miko Branch. In memory of her fallen sister’s shrewdness, Miko has dedicated her time and money and effort to continue the brand. With the company which launched a thousand hair care tutorials on YouTube, Miko ought to be proud of the success that she and her sister built. In a world where the President of the United States states explicitly that entrepreneurs ought to take no credit in their businesses, Miko can say that she and her sibling brought a brand to life out of love of that life and a serious commitment to quality. Now, as she must carry on with the losses of the company namesake and her sister, Miko ought to teach young Black women the significance of business ownership. She should seize the opportunity to profess the trials, tribulations, and travails of entering into business. In order to show respect for the memories of her grandmother and sister, she should make available a manual for how to work with family. Her comprehension of the playing field ought to impel her to pen pamphlets detailing what life is like at the helm of a hair care empire.
The Natural Way
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Though their modest beginnings would soon be belied by their fantastic riches and recognition, both Branch sisters will forever be enshrined in the annals of Black capitalism. Their astute ability to recognize that a certain product had not been exploited and to introduce that into the sphere ought to be applauded. These ladies represent the best in African-American entrepreneurship.