The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s natural hair care line, dead at 45

Titi Branch, one of the co-founders of the wildly successful natural hair care line, Miss Jessie’s, died Dec. 4, according to an obituary by NV Magazine.

The magazine said it was an apparent suicide but there was no independent confirmation of that. A family friend confirmed to the Washington Post that Branch, a graduate of the University of Maryland, had indeed died. She was 45.

With her sister Miko, Branch ran a popular New York salon. Tweets from Miko and the Miss Jessie’s Twitter account appeared to be small tributes to the fallen entrepreneur.

Andre Robert Lee, director and producer of the documentary “Prep School Negro,” posted a video tribute set to Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go.” It concluded with a shot of the program from Branch’s funeral. He also retweeted Miko’s short tribute to her sister.

Miss Jessie’s was one of the first major hair care lines to grace the shelves of Target in the new wave of natural hair enthusiasm. In the mid-aughts, when the company was following the success of Carol’s Daughter, the long-time stalwart of natural hair products, it was still difficult to find many options for natural hair in mainstream stores. But Miss Jessie’s success was explosive, and the company’s presence soon expanded to Wal-Mart and several drug store chains.

The success of lines such as Miss Jessie’s and Mixed Chicks helped spearhead substantial expansions of real estate dedicated not just to black hair care, but natural hair.

Titi, instantly recognizable by her crown of fluffy blonde curls, was credited with creating Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, one of the brand’s signature products. The sisters opened their Brooklyn salon dedicated to curly hair in 1997 and launched their product line, named for their grandmother, in 2004.

Their pricey but effective products became a hit with many natural-hair celebrities like Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry.

“I get so inspired when people meet us,” Titi Branch told Ozy last December. “It’s just a hair product but to them it’s so much more. It has such an impact.”