Black Owned: Founder of SheaMoisture, Richelieu Dennis, Buys ESSENCE From Time Inc.

Black Owned: Founder of SheaMoisture, Richelieu Dennis, Buys ESSENCE From Time Inc.


Essence Communications Inc., a 47-year-old brand that owns EssenceFest and Essence magazine has been purchased by the independent African-American-owned company Essence Ventures LLC. 

A January 3rd announcement included the confirmation that ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks will continue to run Essence Communications Inc. and have equity stake in the business. The entire Essence Communications Inc. board of directors are African American women. 

Richelieu Dennis, a founder of SheaMoisture, is the founder of Essence Ventures and the new owner of Essence Communications Inc. In November 2017, Unilever acquired Sundial Brands, the parent company of SheaMoisture. Sundial founder Dennis will continue to lead the business as CEO.  Dennis launched Sundial in 1991 in Liberia with his mother. 

“The strategic vision and leadership that Michelle has provided to ESSENCE over the years have been exemplary, and we are thrilled to work with her and her talented team to provide the necessary resources and support to continue to grow the engagement and influence of the ESSENCE brand and transform this business,” said Dennis in a statement on January 3.  

“Now that Richelieu Dennis and Essence Ventures have made this purchase, making ESSENCE one of few 100% Black-owned media companies, it’s up to us to renew our subscriptions. Ownership is one part of the equation; the other is supporting our Black-owned businesses,” said Ron Busby, President of  U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. in a statement.  

“ESSENCE has always embodied and evangelized what the world now sees – the sheer beauty, power and magic of Black women,” said Ebanks. 

“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,” Ebanks added.

ESSENCE Magazine was first published in 1970.  Since then it has put its editorial focus on the concerns and views of Black women. 

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke