People Magazine is reporting that Titi Branch, who with her sister Miko was one of the co-founders 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 reports that Titi was found dead of an apparent suicide. Miko and Titi started their pioneering Brooklyn, New York salon, Miss Jessie’s, named after their grandmother, 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 even 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.
“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.”