Over the weekend people learned of the passing of Miss Jessie’s co-founder Titi Branch. I wrote this piece for the Daily Beast about her life and legacy.
For black women and their hair, sometimes things can get complicated. Titi Branch, along with her sister Miko, taught countless women that didn’t have to be.
At 45, Branch had helped create a successful salon in New York City with her sister—and a successful haircare line, Miss Jessie’s Natural Hair Products,nationwide. But at 45, Branch died of a reported suicide, leaving behind family, friends and a legacy that goes beyond the beauty industry.
Branch helped women feel beautiful by encouraging them to embrace their natural selves as she had.
“What’s great about Miss Jessie’s—we saw an emergence of black female entrepreneurs creating their own hair care products,” said Jenee Darden, a writer for CocoaFly and communications coordinator for the mental-health nonprofit PEERS. Darden described Miss Jessie’s as “empowering black women” by representing the idea that “I’m going to wear my hair the way God gave me. I’m going to create a product to take care of my hair. They were at the forefront of that. It showed that we do know how to take care of our hair … we know what we need for our hair and it was empowering for them to do that.”