by Vikki Hankins-Jones|
Miko Branch is the co-founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s LLC, the company behind the premium hair care product line, Miss Jessie’s, that exclusively caters to the diverse spectrum of all curly hair types. Miko founded the company with her sister, Titi, and they named it after their beloved and fiercely independent “do-it-for-yourself,” and “tell-it-like-it-is” paternal grandmother – Jessie Mae Branch.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Branch about her success as a business woman and the story behind the brand. Here’s what she had to say on topics important to all entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises:
Investing in Your Business:
“I had a wonderful father and one of the lessons that he taught us is that you’re as good as your tools. So if you’re gong to invest in anything as it relates to your business or even yourself – invest in the best so you can perform your job at the highest level… you can get your value.”
“You must have the proper tools when running a business. Shortcuts will lead to more labor and less efficiency; increasing operational cost,” said Miko.
The Miss Jessie’s brand was born in Brooklyn, NY out of necessitate. In 2000, Miko had just had a baby boy and she quickly realized that bathing a splashing new born was not good for maintaining her straight styled hair. So, she began wearing her hair natural and curly – and Titi followed behind. They loved the look (as did their salon clients), but it was difcult – if not impossible – to fnd any products, anywhere that were designed for maintaining and styling naturally curly hair.
Faced with this problem, the sisters looked to their grandmother for inspiration and wondered what she would do. The solution was simple. Make your own product, because that is what Miss Jessie would have done!
Mainstream Retail Product Placement – Targets, Walmart, etc.
“Many companies love the opportunity to be in Targets on those shelves; it means volume, it means doing big business with large retailers. Titi and I spent so many years developing product at our kitchen table, we spent so many years creating curriculums, creating strategies for women to care for their natural curly and wavy hair that we didn’t understand that we were ..encouraging
women to stop using relaxers. As a result that stopped buying relaxers in places like Targets, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS.”
“So when we got a call back in 2009 – Titi took the final call which at the third party callers persistence wanted to meet in Minneapolis. Titi understood that the meeting was real – Targets headquarters is located in Minneapolis.”
Prepared to pitch their product – Miss Jessie’s – Titi and Miko took a flight to the meeting, only to learn they did not have to pitch at all; the company knew them and ordered everything.
Miko’s fnger print is evident in every aspect of the Miss Jessie’s brand from the packaging and marketing to the colors and smells of the award winning products, including favorites like Baby Buttercreme, Pillow Soft Curls, Curly Pudding, Quick Curls, Leave In Condish and MultiCultural Curls
With sales down for ‘relaxers’ and an increase in demand for natural hair products Miss Jessie’s came up on the richter scale. Had it not been for the sister’s hard work and dedication their brand may never have received that call. Simply said, they made their brand ‘stand out’ and were innovators, creating a new trend in haircare for ‘natural’ hair!
Full interview here:
More about Miko:
Miko continues to develop innovative, original and effective solutions for curly hair needs and she has acquired numerous accolades such as becoming a best selling author of business memoir, Miss Jessie’s: Creating A Successful Business from Scratch -Naturally (Harper Collins), WWD Most Influential Women in Business, Ebony 100, Centric 16/16 (16 Women To Watch in 2016), and she has graced the March 2016 cover of Black Enterprise Magazine as a result of her remarkable tenacity.