Former Shae Moisture CEO Richelieu Dennis Buys Essence Magazine

Born in Liberia, Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. When he graduated in 1991, he was unable to return to Liberia because of civil war. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from deep traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema.

Sundial AKA Shae Moisture had a breakout year in 2016 there product begin to pop up in every hair store, Target, CVS and Walmart. The quality of their product was tested and proven to really help all hair and skin types.  However in 2017 Richelieu sold Sundial to Unilever This includes their flagship brand SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and nyakio™. The deal also includes a $50 million investment into the newly minted New Voices Fund, created to empower Black women in entrepreneurship.

For those who thought Richelieu would take his millions never to be heard from again were dead wrong. He did the unthinkable and bought Essance.

“It is with great joy that we announced that Essence is under new ownership and is now an independent African-American-owned company,” tweeted Essance.

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.

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.


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