Titi and Miko Branch, Curve Salon
Titi and Miko Branch have a Japanese mother, an African-American father, and hair that defies easy description. "It's not kinky, it's not straight," Titi says. "It's multitextured." Managing their curls and waves has been a lifelong challenge, but the sisters got help early on from their paternal grandmother, Miss Jessie, who mixed homemade treatments for them made of eggs, castor oil and other ingredients. In 1997, Titi and Miko opened a salon in Brooklyn to cater to people with hair like theirs.
Sweat equity: "When we opened Curve Salon, we used our savings and did all the renovation work ourselves—stripping the floors, sanding them, plastering and painting," says Miko.
Present perfect: "We're a small operation: We have fewer than ten employees, and we see 15 to 20 clients every day," says Titi. "We're taking baby steps. We've learned that you want to grow at a rate you can handle."
The last resort: "Our salon is really a forum for sharing information. Most people come to us with a problem, and some of them come in with a notebook full of specific questions on how to manage their curly, kinky, or wavy hair," says Titi. "So in 1999, when we decided to really focus on those people, we became appointment only. We consult with each person—it's almost like a doctor's office."