How Miss Jessie’s Became a Multi-Million Dollar Brand
Anyone who’s pursued the path of entrepreneurship knows just how challenging it can be—even though to the outside world, it looks effortless. This is one of the reasons I appreciate the realness of Miko Branch in her new book Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally (Amistad/Harper Collins). Miko is the co-founder of the multi-million dollar natural hair product company, Miss Jessie’s. She and her sister/business partner, Titi catered to naturals before the term “naturals” ever became a noun.
This book is part memoir, part business crash-course. Miss Jessie’s takes you on a journey from the sisters’ humble beginnings with their strict African American father and Japanese American mother in Jamaica, Queens (New York), to the building of a game-changing brand that women of all backgrounds love. Miko gives us a glimpse into some very personal moments, growing up with a somewhat eccentric and elusive mother who she thought was the most beautiful woman in the world with her bone straight jet black hair, while her father struggled to style her and her older sister, Titi’s, multi-textured, tightly coiled tresses.
Having experienced what starting and running a business was like while working for her father, Miko caught the entrepreneurial bug herself and eventually decided to follow her passion to own a hair salon—an endeavor that began with one chair in the small Brooklyn apartment she shared with Titi.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from Miko’s approach to starting and growing a business was the importance of starting small and refining your process and operations before expanding your business.
What I really love about this book (which every entrepreneur should read) is how Miko pulls back the curtain on her success and allows us to see the very real struggle behind her notable achievements. From the early days of her business where things got so slow she had to take on a side hustle to be able to make her rent for the next month (lesson: don’t be too proud to take on unrelated work to keep the lights on), to the very long hours her and Titi put into manually refinishing and restoring their very first salon, you get an unfiltered view of what it takes to build a business from the ground up.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book from Miko:
“Know when it’s time to make a change. Be alert to the right moment fo making a leap, because nothing holds you back more than clinging to the safety of the status quo.”
“When everyone else goes right, go left. Unconventional paths to promotion will keep the competition guessing and potentionally broaden your customer base.”
“Know your worth. Yes, you can charge a premium when you’re offering a unique service or product. Customers will pay for value.”
“Invest in what you need. You must have the proper tools when running a business. Shortcuts will lead to more labor and less efficiency, increasing operational costs.”
“Be true to yourself, no matter who you are doing business with. Never forget the core values and authentic style that brought you success in the first place.”
(For more great tips, you’ll have to buy your own copy.)
Miss Jessie’s success story has been eighteen years in the making—eighteen years of hard work, grueling hours, quiet sacrifice, costly mistakes, smart decisions and inspiring comebacks.
Miko’s road to success has been paved both with incredible blessings and devastating loss, including the unexpected death of her sister and business partner in December 2014. She dedicates the book to Titi and pays tribute to her memory by continuing to build upon the Miss Jessie’s legacy.
This book will have you anxiously turning the pages to find out what happens next, and trying to figure out how you can insert some of Miko’s savvy business advice into your own enterprise. Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally is hands down, one of the best and most practical books I have ever read on entrepreneurship. It will have you rejoicing in the success of one of the most influential women in business who has come close to losing it all, only to find strength in the process of rebuilding her life and her business—and inspiring many of us to do the same.
*Disclosure: I was given a free advance copy of this book and Miss Jessie’s product for this review. All opinions are my own. Book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Article originally appeared on www.boldandfearless.me.