It’s easy to think industry leaders and CEOs of 9-figure companies have always been THAT successful — but the truth is, there are a lot of hours of hard work and challenges behind the scenes that you don’t see. So what is it really like to go from ground zero to multi-millions (and more importantly, how do you do it?)
Read below for an excerpt from latest Women Who Own It podcast episode with special guest Miko Branch, founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s, a major, award-winning hair care company. Miko and her sister Titi elevated Miss Jessie’s from nothing into one of the most innovative companies in the beauty space… starting off with ZERO startup money, loans or investors.
Honestly, the key for me is, I really embrace becoming a student within my own business and I open myself up to learning more. I think that approach to Miss Jessie’s, my own business, has been really good for me.
– Miko Branch
Listen to the full episode:
Allison Maslan: What do you think were the most important things that helped you keep going without having startup money or a business degree?
Miko Branch: Two things come to mind. One is my big sister, Titi Branch. As adults, we were very much still immersed in our big sister, little sister dynamic so it was like, “hey if Titi thinks this is what we should do, then we should do it” or it would flip and she would say “Miko I really like that idea and I am going to support you”. So work felt like fun. It was the partnership, where the magic took place.
Another, is during the times we didn’t have money (which is one of the hardest things businesses can do), we shared things, we lived together, drove the same car and did what we could to keep overhead low. We always watched our pennies, but we but we put a premium on our services. With that equation of keeping overhead low but putting a premium on our products and services, we were able to generate and build the capital that we needed to grow our business. That way of growing business is slow but sure. At the end of the day, you’re able to really hold on to all your profits, if you do things methodically in the way that we did it. It takes a little bit longer, but we were able to hold on and figure things out as we were going along. If I were going to do it over again, I would probably do it the same way.
Allison Maslan: When you look back on the journey that you’ve been on, what are some of the most difficult challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
Miko Branch: For me the most difficult challenge I have ever encountered in business, and in my whole entire life, was the death of my sister Titi. Outside of her being my business partner, she was also my sister, my best friend, we co-parented together; she was everything to me. So to be able to get up and carry on and keep on after that kind of devastation, it’s hard. To tune out all the noise and be able to you, yourself, not fall into a depression and give up while all this is happening, that’s quite hard to do. During those times I figured things out as i went along, but I always felt like “wow, Titi put so much hard work into this business, it would be such a shame if I got too depressed where i couldn’t function, or if I just sold the business and gave up,” so I really made it a point to just hang in there and I’m so glad I did.
Allison Maslan: Is there anything when you look back, that you wish you would’ve known about scaling or creating a national brand?
Miko Branch: Well, there’s a lot of glory in being a pioneer and being a trailblazer, but that comes with all the bumps, with all the bruises, and all the pains that comes along with blazing out that trail. I’m not sure if being the trailblazer is as great as coming behind someone who may have blazed out that trail so they could get all the bumps and bruises and I can kind of take a look, learn a little bit, and perfect that experience that they had. I love being the trailblazer; Titi and I did it together, but of course I lost Titi along the way. I can say that running a business from scratch with no loans, with no angel investors, with no special business school training, it does have some consequences. I often wonder to myself, if I had a chance to do it again, would I still want to be the trailblazer or would I want to have come behind a Miss Jessie’s and maybe build on that?
There’s a lot of glory being the creator, but it is a tremendous amount of work.