Essence magazine will once again become a fully black-owned publication for the first time in almost two decades. Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands, a personal-care products company, is set to acquire the publication, though the sale has not yet gone through. Dennis intends 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. They have allowed us to invest into the business so that we can bring in the infrastructure and resources.”
Richelieu Dennis. | Image Via the New York Times
According to a statement from the magazine, Essence will keep its executive team in place, which is entirely made up of black women, including president Michelle Ebanks. Dennis intends to give the executive team an ownership interest in the business as well.
In the statement, Ebanks said:
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.
Essence has been in publication for 48 years as a monthly lifestyle magazine focusing on fashion, pop culture, music, and black life, holding a majority-black audience. The magazine holds an annual music festival in New Orleans—Essence Fest—which was featured in 2017’s Girls Trip with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish. It was headlined last year by powerhouse musicians Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, and Chance the Rapper.
Melody Spann-Cooper, chairwoman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, welcomed Essence’s return to an all-black-owned company, saying:
I am a believer that when we own our media companies they represent an authentic voice. 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.
Dennis was raised by a single mother who read Essence, and his four daughters also read it. “I’m very focused on giving back, investing and growing my community. This is a continuation of my quest to do that.” Essence‘s motto is “Black women come first,” and Dennis intends to live up to that motto.
Featured Image Via Essence Magazine.