Essence magazine has officially parted ways with Time Inc., making it a fully black-owned company for the first time in nearly two decades.
Essence Ventures, a company launched last year by Sundial Brands co-founder Richelieu Dennis, announced Wednesday that it had acquired Essence Communications.
Michelle Ebanks will remain the magazine’s president and is set to join the board of directors, the company said in a statement. Members of the executive team, which is made up entirely of black women, are to have an equity stake in business.
“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,” Ebanks said 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 was founded in 1970 as a publication to cater to black women. Forty-nine percent of the magazine was sold to Time Inc. in 2000, and the remaining 51 percent was sold to the media company five years later.
The new acquisition makes Essence one of the only legacy African-American publications to currently be under black ownership.
“We remain committed to leveraging our resources to provide opportunities for other culturally-rooted entrepreneurs and businesses that further our culture and create economic opportunities for our communities,” Dennis said in a statement, noting that his company is “excited” to return the platform to black ownership.
“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,” he said.