Titi Branch, cofounder of natural hair-care line Miss Jessie's, has reportedly passed away at 45. An obituary by NV magazine states that the entrepreneur died on Dec. 4 of a suicide due to asphyxia. Her sister and business partner, Miko, and the Miss Jessie's brand sent out tweets early yesterday in memory of Branch. The Washington Post received confirmation from a family friend that she had died, but neither the family nor the brand has released an official statement.
Anyone who's even remotely familiar with the natural hair movement, and the community that surrounds it, has likely heard of Miss Jessie's. Titi and Miko Branch opened the Brooklyn salon in 1997 and, in 2004, launched a hair-care line. Miss Jessie's is named after their grandmother. Catering to women with textured tresses, the women are commonly heralded as natural hair pioneers. They appeared on the scene when products for curly, kinky, or coily strands were rare, and they have helped women understand, style, and care for their natural strands during a time when conversations on this topic were still taboo.
The brand has grown tremendously over the years. Since its debut, it has become something of a household name, finding a place on the shelves of major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Ricky's NYC. Titi created one of the company's most beloved products: Curly Pudding, a curl enhancer that has won several awards, including Allure's 2009 Best of Beauty and Shecky's 2008 Best Wave Enhancer.
"We want to be part of [our customer's] journey and experience, while at the same time growing the brand and maintaining our integrity in the market," Titi stated on Miss Jessie's site. "When we get letters and emails from customers saying how our product and our message has changed their life and given them confidence to express their individuality — that’s what makes all the hard work we’ve put into Miss Jessie’s worth it."
The natural hair community has undoubtedly suffered a major loss today, and Titi, with all of her charisma and knack for innovation, will be greatly missed.
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!