Miko and Titi Branch Breakdown the Definition of "Natural" and the impact of the Miss Jessie's Mission
In 2012, the co-founders of Miss Jessie's, Titi and Miko Branch, sat down with GalTime TV correspondent, Kia Malone, to generously share their beauty advice and styling secrets with eager audiences. The ladies begin by discussing how their paternal grandmother, Jessie Mae's innovative DIY approach to curly hair maintenance inspired the sisters to create a hair care line, which specifically catered to the needs of all curly textures. Titi humorously states, "When we were kids, going to the salon was not a happy chore of ours. People would run in the corner, once they saw us coming." *source: youtube.com, Galtime TV
Ever the brilliant innovators, the Branch sisters saw this gap in the hair product market as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance, and just as their grandmother had done before them, Miko and Titi response was to get to work. Together in their Bedstuy brownstone, the two sisters joined forces in the kitchen, in pursuit of any and all effective styling solutions, which truly protected, nourished, and enhanced all varying structures and patterns existing on the curly hair spectrum. What resulted from this experimentation is the Miss Jessie's line we all know and love today- and thank god for that.
I myself was born with naturally curly hair, and thanks to the socially imposed standard of beauty based on pin-straight hair that permeated the 1990s and early 2000s, I too know the experience of entering a hair salon and watching all the stylists scatter and scurry away to the nearest hiding spot. Whoever was brave enough to tackle my mane, would usually spend the first hour and a half combing their fingers through my thick hair, utterly dumbfounded by the varying curl patterns existing within my natural texture. They would then spend the next eight to twelve hours (not an exaggeration!) chemically processing, blowing out, and flat ironing my hair, all the while complaining about how much work my hair required. The only advice I was ever given as a kid regarding hair maintenance, was based around this notion that the only way to simplify my at-home styling routine and ultimately appear attractive, as if I completely altered the natural structure of my hair and conform to this trend, in spite of all the potential consequences (heat damage, scalp burns from chemicals, breakage, and excessive amounts of time and money to keep my look consistently fresh). Don't get me wrong- straight hair is quite lovely, but naturally, straight hair was just not in the cards for me, and the way people seemed to react when they saw my hair in its natural glory always made me feel like a carny, side-show freak.
I spent most of my adolescence completely ashamed of my curls and frustrated that every attempt to wear my hair curly was met with judgment and mockery. Maybe sometimes, on particularly humid days, I did resemble Gilda Radner's SNL character, Rosanne Rosannadana, but that was only because it seemed that no one in my life had any constructive solutions for beautifully preserving my curlâ€™s unique structure. I couldn't ever walk out of my house, confident in my curls, because no one took the time to teach me how to take care of it. Instead, they just whipped out the dreaded flat iron and told me to turn on James Cameron's Titanic, as that was the only movie with a runtime that almost equated to the amount of time it took to completely straighten my hair.
It wasn't until I discovered Miss Jessie's products that I really began to appreciate (and dare I say, love) my naturally curly locks. Furthermore, Miko and Titi's own experiences as hairstylists and naturally curly women, has truly made them experts on the subject; not only does the Miss Jessie's line offer a variety of products catering to everything from waves to tight coils, but they connect with consumers, enlightening them on styling strategies. Miko and Titi's mission has made the world open up their eyes and realize that curls are not a curse, they are a blessing. Thanks to their relentless determination and perseverance, the Branch sister's dream of a world in which curls are coveted is now a reality. Most importantly, their work has given myself and others like me the opportunity to embrace our natural textures and finally feel comfortable and confident in our own skin.
So thank you Miko and Titi, for helping us all feel beautiful again, naturally!