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Shea Moisture Founder and CEO Buys 'Essence' From Time Inc.

The African-American lifestyle magazine is once again an entirely Black-owned company.
Maxine Waters on "Essence," December 2017/January 2018. Photo: "Essence" 

Maxine Waters on "Essence," December 2017/January 2018. Photo: "Essence" 

Back in November, The Root reported that Essence, the 47-year-old monthly magazine for African-American women, was not part of Time Inc.'s $3 billion sale to Meredith Corporation, leaving it on the table for purchase. But now, just three days into 2018, it appears to have found its buyer: On Wednesday, Essence Ventures LLC announced that it has acquired Essence Communications Inc., owner and operator of Essence and the annual Essence Festival, for an undisclosed amount. This deal reestablishes Essence Communications Inc. as an entirely Black-owned independent company, which it had maintained for 30 years until it was purchased by Time Inc. in 2000.

Following the acquisition, Essence Communications Inc. President Michelle Ebanks will continue her role at the company, also joining its board of directors. Ebanks, along with the company's all-Black female executive team, will have an equity stake in the business.

Said Ebanks in a statement:

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ESSENCE has always embodied and evangelized what the world now sees – the sheer beauty, power and magic of Black women. From her influence in politics and at the polls, mandate for social justice, and demand for economic inclusion to her impact on beauty culture, leadership in equal rights efforts, and catalyzation of community empowerment, she is at the forefront – driving the cultural phenomena that are positively changing the world. ESSENCE will continue to lead that charge with, for and beside her as the unparalleled platform for her voice.

Essence Ventures LLC was founded by Richelieu Dennis, who also famously founded beauty brand Shea Moisture in Harlem in 1991. Though Shea Moisture is distributed by Sundial Brands, which consumer goods conglomerate Unilever acquired this fall, Dennis continues to serve as its CEO. 

We're very much looking forward to seeing where this new chapter takes Essence in 2018 and beyond. 

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