I cannot remember the exact year I picked up a copy of Essence Magazine but I have been such an avid follower and hard-print + online reader. Who does that eh – well, only an addicted follower like Me! I even have magazines dating back to the ’90s in my parents’ house and have no desire to throw them away.
Essence magazine, a monthly marquee lifestyle brand is aimed at African American women between the ages of 18 and beyond. It is the only magazine that focuses on reaching an audience of black women, revolves around the black woman experience, and has remained for a long period of time.
The magazine covers fashion, lifestyle, and beauty, with an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, and its slogan “Fierce, Fun, and Fabulous” suggests the magazine’s goal of empowering women of colour (WoC) especially Black women. The topics the magazine discusses range from celebrities to fashion, to point-of-view pieces addressing current issues in the African-American community.
The publication originally launched in 1970 under Essence Communications, Inc and became a hallmark for black women maintaining its status as a black-owned publication for decades. However, in 2005, Essence sold all of its assets to Time Inc., placing the premier magazine for women of color under white ownership.
The tables turned on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, when Essence announced that it has now been completely acquired by Essence Ventures LLC, an independent African-American-owned company focused on merging content, community, and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of women of colour. Essence Ventures LLC is owned by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands which also owns beauty company Shea Moisture.
Essence president Michelle Ebanks will continue to run the company and will also join its board of directors. In addition, the all-black female executive team of Essence, including Ebanks, will have equity stakes in the business.
This move now returns 48-year-old Essence to black ownership for the first time in over a decade and solidifies the magazine’s status as the most important minority-owned publication in America. It also marks the first time a major women’s style magazine which focuses heavily on beauty-based advertisements and editorial will be connected via ownership to a consumer-products company. Ebanks directly links this growth to Essence’s new all-black ownership. African-America backing, she notes, is not only symbolically important but “ownership is an important pillar of economic empowerment… and directly builds wealth and strengthens communities of colour.”
This new acquisition makes Essence one of the only legacy African-American publications to currently be under black ownership. This is ‘groundbreaking’ and will be seen as a rare event in contemporary black business history – the era of the Black Renaissance (#blackexcellence at its best).
My goal is to be featured in Essence Magazine real soon (and it will happen – already pinned on my vision board).
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Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©