Essence Magazine is back in Black hands!
Essence Magazine was just acquired by Richelieu Dennis, the Liberian founder of Sundial Brands, in a deal that saw his independent firm Essence Ventures LLC wrest control of Essence from Time Inc, which is now owned by the Koch brothers. In the original deal for the purchase of Time Inc by the Koch owned Meredith Corporation, Essence was not included in the deal, and it was reported by The Root that they were seeking another buyer.
Perhaps this meant a buyer that understood and wished to preserve their mission of serving Black women, as it seems Dennis does. When asked by the New York Times, Dennis said of the sale: “This will give Essence a platform and a voice to serve its consumers, which are women of color… They have allowed us to invest into the business so that we can bring in the infrastructure and resources.”
Essence Ventures, as reported by multiple outlets, wishes to keep on the current all Black woman executive staff and will also give an undisclosed ownership interest to them. Michelle Ebanks, the President of Essence Magazine says that the move is “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… 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.” Ebanks will also join Essence‘s Board of Directors.
Essence currently engages around 16 million people via its diverse platforms such as print, digital media, social media, TV specials, books, and live events. A large part of why Essence was hold out in the Time Inc deal is the Essence Music Festival, which is held over three days in New Orleans every year and typically makes more money than the magazine makes in an entire year. With the success of the film Girls Trip which centers around the festival, it is poised to make even more money this year.