ESSENCE returns to its rightful place as a fully black owned publication

The interwebs rejoiced with the news that ESSENCE magazine was once again a fully black-owned magazine after nearly two decades under the Time Inc portfolio. Time Inc had confirmed that it would sell to Meredith Corporation in a $2.8 billion cash transaction but Essence would not be included in the acquisition. Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands (Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, and Madame CJ Walker Beauty Culture),  approached Time Inc. with the opportunity to purchase ESSENCE under his Essence Ventures company, a vehicle to merge content, community and commerce.


ESSENCE has been a mainstay and cornerstone for black women between 18-49  since its inception in May 1970. The lifestyle magazine has focused on pop culture, fashion, hair and beauty, music, and black life for over 48 years. Its annual festival draws crowds from all over the world in celebration of black music, entertainment, empowerment, and culture.


The purchase of ESSENCE comes at time when traditional media companies are facing immense challenges in the digital world. Most notably, Johnson Publishing Group sold Ebony and Jet publications to a Texas private equity firm eliminating the last of the generation of iconic black owned magazines.

 Ebony Magazine -  March 2016 cover

 Ebony Magazine -  March 2016 cover

Jet Magazine- February 1, 1973 

Jet Magazine- February 1, 1973 


Mr. Dennis’ reason for buying ESSENCE was that he wanted “to serve and empower women of color.” And, oh is he enacting that mission quite immediately. The ESSENCE executive team, which consists entirely of black women, will continue to oversee the brand. The team including Michelle Ebanks, the magazine’s president, will also have ownership interest in the business.

Business leaders take note!






As a reader of ESSENCE since I was a teenager, I cannot sum up my excitement to witness this brand truly live out its mission as authentically and as radically as it wants to under its new ownership.


The sky is absolutely the limit!


ESSENCE, major congrats!