I'm SO excited to present this amazing interview from Miko Branch, the CEO and Co-Founder of Miss Jessie's. She is at the head of an award Winning Hair Care Brand, a best selling author, pioneer, Innovator, proud mother and sister to Titi Branch. In this interview, Miko discusses the inspiration behind her and sister's super successful brand, Miss Jessie's, what makes them so unique and their key to success.
Please tell us about the inspiration behind Miss Jessie's - Where did the idea come from?
It seems hard to believe, but 10 years ago, there were no effective products on the market for curly and natural hair, because, in fairness, there was not much of a demand. Most women, not just black hair, were wearing their hair straight. Black women were using chemical relaxers, and white women were getting "blow outs" or getting Japanese or Brazilian hair straightening processes. The desired look was "bone straight" hair for women of every shade and color. As a stylist, I specialized in hair straightening, and I loved wearing my hair straight, because I was trying to mimic my Japanese-American mother, who had the most beautiful, shinny, straight hair in the world.
But my world went curly after the birth of my son. About 14 years ago, I became a single parent, and back then my favorite time of the day was bath time with my baby boy. He was a big boy and he loved to splash around in the water. The more he splashed, the more he laughed. And he splashed water everywhere -- including on me and my hair. And as anyone who straightens hair knows, once water hits straightened hair, the hair shrinks and goes into its natural, curly state. I just did not have the time or energy to invest in continuing to straighten my hair, so I stopped fighting Mother Nature and started wearing my natural and curly.
You and your sister already owned a successful beauty salon, was it is easy to make the transition to begin catering to curly hair?
At the time, my sister and business partner, Titi, thought it would ruin our business, because nobody wanted curly hair. To our surprise, however, many of our clients asked me about my hair and how they could get the look. I could not believe it, but I knew that I had tapped in something. I was beginning to understand that black women did not have what was negatively known as "nappy" hair, we had curly hair. To be sure, some curls were tighter than others, but we had curly hair. And our curls were unique and gorgeous!
We quickly changed our entire styling approach and became the destination salon for curly hair solutions. And more surprises followed. Our very first curly clients were white women, who wanted to find someone who cut and style their naturally curly hair. Then, we quickly built a black client base because we realized this customer was not being served. We focused our attention on transforming tight kinks to elongated, soft, natural curls.
How did you come about creating the Miss Jessie's product line?
There were no products on the market to support this hair. Instead, most product left natural and curly hair looking wet and feeling greasy. And even worse, products left the hair feeling hard. Not sexy at all! Titi and I were completely on our own. Inspired by our grandmother, whom everyone called "Miss Jessie", we knew that we needed to create own solution to the curly hair problem. And we did. Night after night, we would literally sit at kitchen table in our Brooklyn brownstone and mix up hair concoctions with a Kitchen-Aide hand mixer. It took awhile, but we eventually mixed up a our first product, Curly Pudding. We used the product in the salon, but after awhile clients wanted to know whether they could buy the product and use it in between styling appointments. It did not take long until the majority of our profits were being generated from the sale of products, rather than hair services. It was unbelievable.
We continued to make other products that were specifically designed for every type of wave, curl or kink without regard to race, color or ethnicity.
What makes Miss Jessie's so unique compared to other products created for curly hair? What has been your key to success?
At Miss Jessie's, we pride ourselves on being one of the few hair care companies that speak directly to hair texture, rather than skin color. Miss Jessie's is not only for black women. If you have any type wave, curl, or kink, then Miss Jessie's has a product for you, and it does not (and should not) matter what color you are.
As bi-racial children of a black father and Japanese-American mother, my sister and I had our hair issues, but we share the same issues with other women, who may not be bi-racial. That was the concept behind one of Miss Jessie's newest and most successful styling products, MultiCultural Curls. The product speaks directly to women who have unique curl issues. While bi-racial women love the product, MultiCultural Curls is not exclusively for bi-racial women. It is for any woman who has multitude of textures. As a stylist, I know that for most women, their curls are not consistent. For example, often, curls in the back are tighter than the curls on top of the head. We formulated a product that was specifically designed to address unique hair texture and diverse curl patterns. It really works wonders!
Unlike other hair care companies, we never need to conduct market research or set up focus groups to dedicate what products are needed in the market, we already know. I am still in the salon and still styling hair every week. Literally, I am in my client's hair, and listening and understanding what her specifics needs are. And more importantly, I anticipate what she will need. It is my direct connection with my clients that allows me to continue to grow the Miss Jessie's business and brand.
How can the Clever Girl Finance reader learn more about your brand and business success?
If you want to learn more about the Miss Jessie's brand and how I built the business with my sister, Titi, then I encourage you and your followers to read "Miss Jessie's: Creating a Successful Business form Scratch, Naturally", because I also share business tips for other inspiring entrepreneurs who want to build their own business and brand.