Curl-connoisseurs and sisters Miko and Titi Branch of Miss Jessie’s have been taming unruly tousles since watching their grandmother concoct hair remedies on their kitchen stove.
Daughters to a Japanese mother and an African-American father, their multi-textured hair confused every stylist they visited. As they watched every hairdresser cower in fear of their curls, they decided they needed their own solution.
We sat down with the sisters to talk curls and their beloved Miss Jessie.
Tell us about Miss Jessie, the woman who inspired it all.
Titi Branch: Miss Jessie was a no-nonsense, independent kind of woman. She was all about cooking and grooming so she ruled the family from her kitchen table.
Did you ever help her out while she was working in the kitchen?
Miko Branch: She delegated everything. While she concocted hair remedies for us, we would pitch in. We’d get the mayonnaise out, stir it up and crack the eggs. The whole family participated.
Eggs and mayonnaise? That seems like quite the recipe!
TB: Eggs, mayonnaise and castor oil. She’d beat it with an eggbeater and put it in a mason jar to use as a deep conditioning treatment. It was one of the recipes that inspired our Rapid Recovery and Super Sweetback Treatment. Most of our treatments have food reference names as a tribute to Miss Jessie.
Are many of your products derived from her original recipes?
MB: Her recipes and concoctions inspire ours, but we had to do some tweaking.
TB: Her approach to life and hair was all about common sense. If you can’t find something that performs, make it yourself. The products available back then weren’t quite right, so we’d mix up different products. It was Miss Jessie’s spirit of independence and self-starting that inspired us.
How do you create and test products to get them just right?
TB: We’re no longer at the kitchen table anymore, but we talk to our chemist and come up with our formulations. We test out remedies on ourselves first before using them in our salon. As stylists we understand the expectations of a product and how it should perform.
Which product can you not live without?
TB: We’re constantly in research and design figuring out what to offer next, but for now my favorite is Super Sweetback.
MB: We switch up our favorites. The staple for me is the Baby Buttercreame.
Why is Target the right retailer for Miss Jessie’s?
MB: We knew Target could tell our story. Our message is so much more than the product on the shelf.
TB: Our relationship with our customer is strong. We wanted our product to reach more people and become a household name for curly hair. Having Target as our retailer is a huge step in achieving that.
What sets Miss Jessie’s apart from other hair care lines?
TB: We liberated customers from their stylists by giving them the tools to become their own stylist at home. We give the insider treatments.
Which Miss Jessie’s product has received the most fan praise?
MB: Curly Pudding is a man-magnet.
TB: Our idea was to put out a really yummy-smelling product. We found out that it’s kind of an aphrodisiac. So many women come back and tell us how much their husbands and boyfriends love it.
Curly haired-celebs can’t get enough of Miss Jessie’s!
MB: Yes! We have a lot of celebrities who love our products. Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Holly Robinson Peete and Randy Jackson, to name a few. And Malia and Sasha Obama use Baby Buttercreame!
Stick-straight hair has been the trend for so long, but now so many people are going curly. Why?
TB: A lot of times, curly hair is not considered professional, manicured or pretty. We’re showing women that curly is beautiful.
MB: Natural hair and Miss Jessie is synonymous. We’ve been there creating products for anyone who has curls, kinks and waves since the beginning. Curls are being recognized as something desirable, and we take the time to show how pretty curls can be.
Did you have any embarrassing hair moments when you were younger?
MB: We grew up in the ‘70s during the time when Michael Jackson and Angela Davis had huge Afros. In the mornings our mom left early, so it was up to our dad to handle our hair. Titi and I were so mortified. We looked crazy, but he thought we look so fly.
What is it like working with your sister every day?
TB: It’s been wonderful having a sister as a business partner. There is no one I could trust more. There is no separation, which has worked to our advantage in formulating Miss Jessie’s. We want what’s best for each other because we love and respect one another.
MB: We’re not only sisters, we’re friends.
Put down the straightener and pick up Miss Jessie’s cures for crazy curls