Essence Returns to its Black-Owned Roots

Since the 1970 foundation of its flagship print magazine, ESSENCE Magazine has been a source of empowerment for people of color.

Earlier last week marked a landmark moment for the publication; ESSENCE Magazine was sold by Time, Inc. to an independent company Essence Ventures LLC.. This is the first time in over a decade that the magazine has been completely black-owned.

Announced in a press release, ESSENCE will keep its president Michelle Ebanks and allow the executive team (notably an all-black, all-female board) an equity stake in the company.

[This] “represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position,” said Ebanks in the press release.

Founder and chairperson of Essence Ventures is Richelieu Dennis. Dennis is also the founder of Sundial Brands, a skincare company that caters to women of color and is also in charge of popular brand SheaMoisture.

According to an interview with the New York Times, Dennis, a Liberian-American himself, credited his purchase of the company “to serve and empower women of color.”

Across social media, people voiced their excitement for the new ownership.


In the press release, both Ebanks and Dennis voiced their excitement for the future of the publication.

Going forward, the company will continue to push their reach to culturally-rooted businesses and companies across their digital, video and social platforms. In addition to a global audience of over 16 million, ESSENCE hosts the Black Women in Hollywood Awards on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the Street Style Block Party during New York Fashion Week and its own ESSENCE festival.

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