Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Sundial Brands founder in deal to buy Essence magazine

Sundial Brands founder Richelieu Dennis.

Sundial Brands founder Richelieu Dennis. Credit: Uli Seit

A company formed by the founder of Amityville-based haircare and skin-care company Sundial Brands is buying Essence magazine from Time Inc.

The move will put the iconic, 48-year-old lifestyle publication, which focuses on African-American women, under 100 percent black ownership for the first time in nearly two decades.

Last year, Sundial founder Richelieu Dennis formed Essence Ventures LLC, which is buying the magazine as part of a purchase of Essence Communications Inc., which also includes digital platforms and the Essence Music Festival, an annual event that started in 1995 and draws more than 450,000 attendees to New Orleans each summer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Essence will focus on expanding its digital operations, Essence Ventures said in a prepared statement. It will also focus on expanding internationally.

Essence Communications’ president, Michelle Ebanks, will continue to lead the company, and will join its board of directors. Ebanks and the rest of the executive team, all of whom are black women, will have an equity stake.

In 1991, Dennis founded Sundial Brands, whose personal care products include SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage brands. Personal care giant Unilever announced that it had agreed to buy Sundial in November but said Dennis would remain on as CEO and executive chairman.

The new venture will provide resources to Ebanks’ team to expand Essence’s reach and brand influence, Dennis said in the statement.

“As importantly, we are excited to be able to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and the consumers whom it serves and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business to also be partners in the business,” he said.

Dennis and Ebanks couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

In 2000, Time acquired a minority stake in Essence Communications, and then bought the whole business in 2005.

In November, publisher Meredith Corp. announced that it would buy Time, whose magazines also include People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, in a deal valued at $2.8 billion. It decided to sell Essence in a separate deal.

More news