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Richelieu Dennis of Shea Moisture Buys Essence Magazine From Time, Inc.

This power move makes the veteran publication 100 percent black-owned again.

ESSENCE magazine, the veteran publication owned by multi-platform media company Essence Communications Inc., has been acquired by Essence Ventures LLC, an independent, black-owned company founded by Shea Moisture's Richelieu Dennis.


The publication has been on the hunt for a buyer since its previous owner, Time Inc, did not make Essence magazine a part of it's sale to the Meredith Corp. in November 2017, says The Root.

According to a press release, ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks will continue at the helm of the company and will also join its board of directors. The all black female executive team at ESSENCE will have an equity stake in the 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 says. "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."

Through this power move made by the Liberian-American entrepreneur, ESSENCE will focus on expanding its digital businesses via distribution partnerships, compelling original content, and targeting client-first strategies. The brand also plans to expand its international growth.

"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 says. "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. We look forward to helping generate new opportunities that create more value across the ESSENCE portfolio with unmatched content, commerce and international access for the millions of women it serves, as well as exceptional value for our advertising partners and content creators."

Congratulations are in order, and the reactions on social media are nothing less of that.


Photo courtesy of Kunjina

Spotlight: Ethiopian Brand Kunjina Is On a Fashion Metamorphosis

Founder and creative director Kunjina Tesfaye speaks on her namesake brand, and how her personal evolution manifests through the unique garments.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Ethiopian fashion brand, Kunjina. The Addis Ababa based label focuses on ready-to-wear fashion and empowering woman through their garments and designs. Creator Kunjina Tesfaye established the brand in 2017 in her home country Ethiopia, and has since shared her distinctive designs with the world. Each garment acts as a physical embodiment of Kunjina's life experiences, and the stages we all go through to become closer to ourselves. "When the work comes from a personal place, it portrays a true feeling therefore the output becomes Authentic", the young designer says on the website. Each garment is carefully and intentionally created, as the company prides themselves on their choice to reduce unnecessary waste -- often times what happens with brands focused on trends.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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(YouTube)

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Featuring Ayra Starr x Ckay, Kes, Davido x Skiibii, Pierre Kwenders and Rema.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Photo: La Fédération de la Haute Couture

Lukhanyo Mdingi on Making his Paris Fashion Week Debut

We talked to the South African designer who, after co-winning the LMVH Prize last year, showcased his Bodyland Autumn/Winter 22-23 collection in Paris earlier this month.

In 2015, South African designer Lukhanyo Mdingi founded his eponymous label. Inspired by his mother and grandmother who raised him, Mdingi has created a formidable brand that is centered on building a bridge between heritage and timeless fashion pieces. Since the brand’s inception, Mdingi has made great strides in fashion, from his NYFW debut in 2019 to being crowned a joint winner of the 2021 LVMH Karl Lagerfeld Prize.

This year, Mdingi took his vision of Africa to France’s fashion capital, Paris, where he made his Bodyland Autumn/Winter 22-23 debut for the Paris Fashion Week Menswear Collection. Being the first designer on the program schedule to present, Mdingi showcased a collection that spoke of the relationship he shares with himself and the artisans he collaborates with. For the past two years, Mdingi has been working to source his woven textiles and knitwear from crafts communities in Burkina Faso, Somalia, and the Eastern Cape, and the collection featured textural and sartorial nuances paying homage to his being a young Black creative.

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