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BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Help Entrepreneur Return Essence to Glory

Essence has a new home.

Essence Ventures, an African-American-owned company founded last year by Sundial Brands founder Richelieu Dennis, has acquired Essence Communications. The deal the Liberian-born entrepreneur engineered reestablishes Essence magazine as a totally Black and independently owned entity.

Blacks should get to know Richelieu Dennis. The new “Renaissance Man” is catapulting based on successes he pulled off at Sundial, a hair care and skin care company that pulled in an estimated $200 million in revenue in 2015 and is currently worth $33 billion globally. Such corporate growth caught the attention of Bain Capital, which in September 2015 acquired a minority stake in the family-owned company for an estimated $700 million.

The Sundial Brand came from the Nubian Heritage brand co-founded by Richelieu Dennis, Nyema Tubman and Mary Dennis. Richelieu Dennis is an enterprising black businessman. He says: “But both my grandmothers were entrepreneurs in rural West Africa. I learned from them early on that business could impact the future of generations, just based on your ideas and your willingness to drive those ideas to fruition.

Dennis can shape black’s history. The brand he’s acquired occupies a special place in the hearts of millions of Black women-it’s not just a magazine but her most trusted confidante. Essence has become a cultural institution in the African-American community. Founded in 1968, Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) launched Essence, the as a magazine created exclusively for African-American women in 1970. For 42 years, the company has flourished and expanded beyond magazine pages. Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth and Jonathan Blount founded ECI. Its initial circulation was approximately 50,000 copies per month, subsequently growing to roughly 1.6 million. In 2000, Time purchased 49 percent of Essence Communication.

Essence is a monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. It is the only magazine that focuses on reaching black women and has a monthly circulation of 1,050,000. Essence President Michelle Banks will maintain a leadership role in the company. Banks and Essence’s all-black female executive team will also have an equity stake in the company moving forward.

The new Essence will need subscribers. The media business will focus on expanding its digital businesses and international growth “by planting its rich content ecosystem, including digital properties and successful live event franchises, in more global markets.” In addition to the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, Essence platforms include the Grammy Week event Black Women in Music, the Black Women in Hollywood Awards and the Essence Festival in Durban, South Africa.

Blacks should make it a point to buy the publication. The Black community owes allegiance and support to people like Dennis and should go out of their way to patronize black-owned businesses.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.

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William Reed

William Reed is President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Press International. He has been a Media Entrepreneur for over two decades. A well-trained marketing and communications professional, Reed has a national reputation for his expert writing, speaking, organizational, research, management and motivation abilities, along with strong managerial, presentation and sales skills.

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