Skip to main content

Essence Is Once Again a Fully Black-Owned Magazine:Richelieu Dennis, Liberian-American Buys Essence Magazine 



For the first time in nearly two decades, Essence magazine is once again a fully black-owned publication.


The magazine, a mainstay of black culture for almost half a century, was bought by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands, a large personal-care products company, from Time Inc., Essence Ventures announced on Wednesday. Mr. Dennis would not discuss the details of the sale.



In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Dennis, 48, said that he bought the magazine “to serve and empower women of color.”


“This will give Essence a platform and a voice to serve its consumers, which are women of color,” Mr. Dennis said during a flight from his native Liberia to the United States. “They have allowed us to invest into the business so that we can bring in the infrastructure and resources.”

According to a statement released by the magazine’s owner, Essence Ventures, Essence will keep its current executive team, which consists entirely of black women, including Michelle Ebanks, the magazine’s president. The executive team will also have an ownership interest in the business.


The acquisition 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,” Ms. Ebanks said in the statement.

Essence, a 48-year-old monthly lifestyle magazine, has a majority-black readership. The magazine focuses on fashion, pop culture, music and black life. It also holds an annual music festival at which Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige and Chance the Rapper were headliners last year.

Essence currently reaches over 16 million people via social media, print, digital engagement and live events, according to a spokeswoman for Essence Ventures.


In 2000, the magazine’s founders, Clarence Smith and Ed Lewis, sold a 49 percent stake in Essence to Time Inc. The company bought the remaining 51 percent in 2005.


Mr. Dennis said that he approached Time Inc. about buying Essence after Time Inc. was sold in November to the Meredith Corporation, the owner of Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, in an all-cash transaction worth about $2.8 billion. Mr. Dennis sold Sundial Brands to Unilever that month.


The sale of Essence to Mr. Dennis comes at time when traditional media companies continue to struggle to adapt to an increasingly digital landscape, challenges also faced by black-owned media.


That reality was reflected by Johnson Publishing Company’s sale two years ago of Ebony and Jet to a private equity firm in Texas, creating a void in black-owned media companies.

Melody Spann-Cooper, chairwoman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, which owns WVON, a Chicago radio station whose target audience is black, welcomed Essence’s return to being an all-black-owned company.


“I am a believer that when we own our media companies they represent an authentic voice,” Ms. Spann-Cooper said. “We have an opportunity to control our media and tell our own story and that is often muted when traditional media companies that represent the African-American culture are owned by someone outside of an African-American’s hands it loses something. This is historical.”


“I hope this means there is an opportunity for us to stay in business,” she said. “We’re never lacking content; we’re never lacking a story; we’re lacking an opportunity to compete,” she added.


Mr. Dennis said that he was raised by a single mother who read Essence magazine and that his four daughters read it. “I’m very focused on giving back, investing and growing my community, he said. “This is a continuation of my quest to do that.”


The Essence motto is “Black women come first,” and Mr. Dennis said he intended to live up to it.


“What we now have is an opportunity to have the liquidity to make investments in Essence,” said Mr. Dennis. “We can now invest in women of color as consumers.”

Source: New York Times

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Liberian-American Wilmot Collins unseats Mayor Smith - Becomes 1st Black Mayor In Montana

Wilmot Collins will be Helena’s new mayor, unseating incumbent Jim Smith in a close race Tuesday. 
Collins, 54, will be the city's first new mayor in 16 years after running a long campaign based in progressive principles.
“The people of Helena have spoken, and I am honored to be able to serve them,” Collins said as the night drew to a close. “I intend to work with commissioners, work for the people of Helena and find what is best for this city.”Collins also sought to praise Smith for his work over the past decade and a half.
“I commend Mayor Smith. He’s done a great job for the city, and I hope to work with him in the future," Collins said. 
At the La Pa Grill on 6th Avenue in downtown Helena, Collins and other members of the self-described “progressive ticket” watched and waited for the results of the 2017 election.
The feeling was festive as Collins received a call from U.S. Sen. Jon Tester congratulating Collins on his victory. Victory cigars were passed around the room at the …

Open Letter to President George Weah

C Liberia Clearly CEO calls on George Weah to take Arts and Culture seriously.
The Honorable George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, I write to endorse your "Pro Poor" agenda. I fully

support your call "to ensured Liberians are not spectators in the

Liberian Economy."    In

order to carry out this "Pro Poor" agenda successfully,

and in order to fully empower the young generation, the Liberian Entertainment Industry must be included. 

Arts and Culture has played a critical role in keeping our young citizens gainfully employed.  From the music industry to film industry to the fashion industry, this generation has benefitted from the employment opportunities arts and culture provides. 
To extend the benefits of arts, culture and tourism, the Liberian government must support and rely on arts and culture as a key input for rebuilding our nation. There are several actions this administration should take to strengthen the role that arts and culture p…

Liberia’s Inauguration Day

By Berenice Mulubah and Kru Cherie
Gbana Pekins and big juesWheelbarrow boys and Market girls Brabees and zogosPenpen boys and penpen girls 
Big boy one and big boy two
Mamie pepper and teacher pepperDecembrians and been-tos Not forgetting Dr. Turn around
All the Maco(s) and Paco (s) That Cerees speaking girl and senate juesMen have come and men have gone Our mothers have given birth to kings and queens 
Stand on Snapper Hill and sing it loud in Kolloque songLet all the good things flowClub beer, cane juice and palm wine tooFrom God to manthe palm wine can’t fini seh 
Tell Ma Hawa to bring the chewThe GB, Fufu and dumb boy tooPalmbutter, torbugee, Cassavaleaf can’t fini seh  
You see what God Nah doPapa God has brought us throughFrom many years of heartaches and shameWiping our tears away
Over the years we lost our waySpilling our own blood from pole to poleSwimming in hurts and painFor so many years things remained the same
Now the time has come To soak our feet in the sand of Sun Set beachSo…