(Female Founders)

How These Sisters Founded Hit Beauty Brands While Strengthening Their Relationships

A family affair.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged — there’s no relationship quite like sisterhood. Genetically, there’s not another human on earth with whom a woman shares more crossover DNA. Socially, a sister understands your unique childhood and familial bonds the way no one else really can. And for many, this inherent understanding breeds more than just a lifelong friendship. In the beauty world in particular, several sets of sisters have teamed up to found best-selling brands that are helping shape the entire industry as a whole.

Working with a sister in a professional capacity is a rewarding but notoriously tricky endeavor. There are overwhelming positives, of course — a creative environment free of judgment, an inherent trust, and an unspoken understanding — but your family dynamics don’t have to resemble an episode of Succession to know that the endeavor isn’t without its distinct set of challenges, too. For the sister teams behind NUDESTIX, Miss Jessie’s, and Brown Girl JANE though, all runaway successes in the crowded beauty industry, they simply wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just ahead, get familiar with the special story behind each of these three best-selling brands and how their sisterhood and family relationships helped inspire their success.

Familiarity Breeds Creativity

Shared life experiences between families are a given, but they’re also significantly beneficial when it comes to identifying potential business opportunities. One common thread through each of these three brands is the entirely organic way in which they developed initial concepts and ideas. For CEO Miko Branch, who founded hair care giant Miss Jessie’s with sister Titi, it was a matter of building off each other’s strengths and abilities. While she was a creative particularly interested in the hands-on aspect of beauty, Titi, who died in 2019, was a gifted public speaker with a sharp mind for public relations strategy. In fact, Branch shares with TZR, it was Titi who approached the idea of the pair opening up their first salon.

For Malaika and Nia Jones, the innovative founding duo behind fragrance brand Brown Girl JANE, their relationship gave them a distinct, creative way of approaching the centuries-old perfume industry. “As sisters, we knew the potential of fragrance to shift emotions and transport us to different times, places, and memories,” Malaika Jones, CEO, explains. With a goal to amplify diverse voices, often underrepresented in the industry, the pair struck out on their own based on a foundation of trust and mutual understanding.

Similarly, sisters Ally and Taylor Frankel, who founded NUDESTIX alongside their cosmetic chemist mother, Jenny, built off that pre-existing industry knowledge when they realized their was a significant gap in the market for a truly beginner-friendly, easy-to-apply makeup brand. “We were all so incredibly passionate about this concept that we felt that there was no other option but to jump into it head first,” Taylor Frankel, chief brand officer, says, and it was their mother’s experience that helped give the sisters the confidence to jump right in — and the business is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

A Unique Perspective

The overwhelming consensus of all three sister teams? Their relationships are major, if not defining, factors of their success. But just because you’ve incorporated, set up LLCs, and signed off on founder’s agreements, it doesn’t mean classic sibling squabbles and distinctive types of social pressure just magically disappear. Birth order dynamics, long hours spent together in high-pressure situations, and life savings on the line all come become day-to-day factors as the brands progress — issues that wouldn’t typically manifest with business partners bound by bank accounts rather than blood.

“We all want to make money, but the family businesses that are successful are the ones ones that really tap into all of the assets that the family has, whether it be sweat equity, or know-how, or verbal skills — all these things really, are used in order the build the business,” Branch says, describing how she quickly learned she and her sister needed to adopt each other’s skills sets in order to truly hack it. She had the creative aspect down pat, but became well-versed in more unfamiliar areas too, from negotiating contracts to manual labor required to build out the shop.

Both Jones and Frankel report that sometimes, drawing an invisible boundary between work talk and real-life bonding time. Jones explains that the ultra-close relationship shared between the sisters means it’s easy for non-work conversations to quickly spiral into shop talk, making clear boundaries and even individual space to rest and reflect necessary. Frankel echos the sentiment, with a similar rule at home. “Over the years, we’ve had to really be mindful of ‘family time’ vs. ‘NUDESTIX time,’” she shares. “We have to remind ourselves to turn off at family events because otherwise, it is so easy to work 24/7.”

Sharing Success

The challenges might be singular, but so are the sweet moments of success — especially at the very beginning. Frankel recalls the period NUDESTIX just launched, with the trio traveling all over the world to promote and grow the line. “We would all share a room to save money and it felt so novel and exciting to be able to travel to so many cities together for the first time,” she says. “Those were the memories that remind me of our growth as a business and how lucky we were to be able to have that time and experience together as a family.”

Even though Titi is no longer physically with Branch, the full-fledged empire that is Miss Jessie’s is another tangible testament to their once-in-a-lifetime bond and special relationship. “Titi taught me a lot of lessons,” Branch shares, but a particularly poignant teaching is one she considers to be an extension of their father’s commitment to instilling an unshakable self-sufficiency and resilience in his girls. “We were actually the ones mixing the product, lifting up all of the barrels with the fragrances and the ingredients, hauling the boxes, and doing the painting — just doing all of the dirty work,” she says. That’s why even now, she laughs, she’s a particular type of CEO, one fixed on every aspect of the business.

With an acclaimed line beloved by celebrities, stylish women, and every imaginable Sephora shopper, Jones says it all comes down to the power of true partnership and collaboration. “As sisters, we know there’s room for us all to succeed, and that supporting and championing one another only strengthens us,” she explains. Brown Girl JANE was built on a foundation of love and trust, but also a deep understanding of the other person — all the strengths, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and emotions.

In a way, these sisterhoods have expanded to include their customers. It comes across in the way the three brands communicate with their audiences, their hands-on approaches, and the way they’ve all managed to scale without losing sight of their original goals and ethos. They’ve truly become family affairs.