By Ryan Velez
Following a stint of ownership by Time, Inc., The Root reports that Essence Communications Inc., the 47-year-old multiplatform brand that owns Essence magazine and the annual Essence Festival, has gone back to Black ownership following a purchase by Essence Ventures LLC, an independent African-American-owned company, according to an official press release by Essence Ventures. It’s important to note that the Essence brand was not part of the historic, nearly $3 billion sale of Time Inc. to the Meredith Corp. in November 2017.
Essence Ventures was founded and is chaired by Richelieu Dennis, who also is the founder of SheaMoisture. (Note: In November, Unilever acquired the parent company for SheaMoisture, Sundial Brands.)
“[W]e are excited to be able to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and the consumers whom it serves, and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business to also be partners in the business,” said Dennis of the Essence brand acquisition.
Essence President Michelle Ebanks will continue at the helm of the company and will join its board of directors; she will also have an equity stake in the business.
“This acquisition of Essence represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,” said Ebanks. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”
This comment references the fact that Essence’s executive team consists entirely of Black women. The release also says that Essence will focus on expanding its digital businesses and continue to “plant its rich content” in more global markets (the Essence Festival launched a Durban, South Africa, Festival in 2016).
Essence currently reaches an audience of more than 16 million across its various platforms, including its print magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and live events, such as the annual Essence Festival, a 22-year-old cultural celebration that attracted more than 450,000 attendees to New Orleans last summer.