The natural hair world lost an important pioneer

By Alex Apatoff
Updated December 15, 2014 10:06 PM

Titi Branch, who with her sister Miko was one of the cofounders of successful curl-care product line Miss Jessie’s, has passed away at 45, according to an obituary posted by NV Magazine. The Washington Post verified her death with a family friend, but could not independently confirm the magazine’s claim that Titi was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Titi Branch Miss Jessie's

Cindy Ord/Getty

Miko and Titi started their pioneering New York salon, Miss Jessie’s, which specialized in natural hair, in 1997. After the launch of their Curly Pudding in 2004, the sisters saw explosive growth of their product line, and soon expanded into Target, Wal-Mart and other drugstore chains, and found a huge following from magazines including Allure and Essence, which touted the sisters’ approach to working with natural curl texture rather than trying to relax it.

Director Robert Andre Lee created a video tribute for his friend, but the Miss Jessie’s team remained mostly silent on social media, Tweeting just their friend’s name on Monday. Branch leaves an important legacy behind — as well as a hugely impactful product line. “It was important that we showed that natural hair could be sexy. That it looks good,” Titi said in an interview last year. “I get so inspired when people meet us. It’s just a hair product but to them it’s so much more. It has such an impact.”

–Alex Apatoff