Shea Moisture Founder Buys Essence Magazine, Returns to 100 Percent Black Ownership

Essence Magazine March 2017 Cover Ava Duvernay - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Kwaku Alston

"It is with great joy that we announced that Essence is under new ownership and is now an independent African-American-owned company," tweeted the 47-year-old title.

Essence magazine is back under 100 percent black ownership.

Essence Communications announced Thursday that it was acquired from Time Inc. by Essence Ventures for an undisclosed sum. Essence Ventures was founded in 2017 by Richelieu Dennis, who also founded personal care company Sundial Brands, which owns beauty companies Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage and Madam C.J. Walker.

Time Inc. originally purchased a 49 percent stake in the magazine in 2000 from owners Clarence Smith and Ed Lewis before buying the remaining 51 percent in 2005, according to the New York Times.

Essence president Michelle Ebanks will continue to lead the company and also join the board of directors. Additionally, Ebanks and the all-black female executive team of Essence will receive an equity stake in the company.

"This acquisition of Essence 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," said Ebanks in a statement. "In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position."

Essence Ventures added that the 47-year-old publication will focus on expanding its digital operations, with its main goal still being to serve and empower black women.

Added Dennis, "Our focus here will be on ensuring that Essence reaches its full potential via heightened capabilities, technology, products and touch points that super-serve the interests of Black women locally and globally."