BeautyCon—the beauty and fashion influencer and content creator community founded by a Black woman and made even more popular by its annual star-studded, bicoastal festivals in New York and Los Angeles—just got even Blacker.
Per a press release provided to The Root, the seven-year-old entity has been acquired by an affiliate of Essence Ventures, “the independent Black-owned consumer technology company focused on emerging technology, content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color” owned by Richelieu Dennis, co-founder of Sundial Brands, known for Shea Moisture, among other product lines.
“BeautyCon is an incredible brand founded by Marina Curry, a Black woman and pioneer who brought greater diversity to the beauty and media industries,” Dennis, also founder and chair of Essence Ventures, said in statement in which he also thanked former BeautyCon CEO Moj Mahdara “for her hard work and dedication to scale the company and build a diverse and inclusive community around beauty and fashion.”
“As we continue our mission to bring heightened inclusivity to the space and transform the face of media ownership, the decision to continue with BeautyCon Media was an easy one,” Dennis added.
The release further explains that as part of the acquisition, Essence Ventures—which operates the Essence Festival of Culture, will assume operations of the BeautyCon festival, “which brings together the biggest names in beauty and wellness.” Both festivals have understandably faced insurmountable obstacles since the onset of the pandemic, with Essence Fest quickly and effectively pivoting to first a virtual format in 2020, followed by a hybrid format in 2021 in place of its highly attended annual July 4th weekend festivals in New Orleans.
Seemingly, BeautyCon was not as successful at adapting to the restrictions compelled by COVID-19. As the release explains: “in May 2021, BeautyCon commenced an ABC (Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors) process as an alternative to bankruptcy. During the ABC process, an affiliate of Essence Ventures purchased all of the assets of BeautyCon in a foreclosure sale.”
The acquisition of BeautyCon is “the latest in a series of investments made by Essence Ventures, which aims to scale Black-owned brands and bring much-needed diversity to the space,” the release states. In addition to EssenceCommunications, Inc. (which produces Essence Fest), the company’s portfolio also includes Afropunk and Naturally Curly, among others.
As we wait to see how BeautyCon will develop under the Essence Ventures umbrella, the company is kicking off New York Fashion Week with its annual Essence Fashion House in celebration of “global Black Fashion.” Sponsored by Coca-Cola and Hennessy, this season’s event will feature Black designers Arc of Andre, Grayscale, LAVNTG and Eclecticist, as well as conversations with fashion industry leaders. Following the successful hybrid format of Essence Fest, portions of the limited space event will be rebroadcast on Monday, September 13 at 7 pm ET on ESSENCEStudios.com.
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Coming on the heels of its Global Black Fashion September/October issue which features rapper Megan Thee Stallion, this star-studded experience discovering and recognizing cutting-edge Black creatives in fashion and their contributions is critical as the fashion industry continues to grapple with diverse representation and constructing solutions for economic inclusion. During this red-carpet event, ESSENCE will highlight Black excellence with awe-inspiring runway collections, exclusive designer showcases, insightful conversations with industry mavens and celebrities, post-worthy photo moments, and more.
“Our annual Essence Fashion House experience is a testament to all of the amazing designers and influencers across the diaspora who have had such a great impact on the industry,” said Essence Deputy Editor Cori Murray. “Essence is proud of our longstanding commitment to showcase the power of Black designers across our pages, stages and digital platforms...As conversations around diversity in the industry continue, we can look forward to a bright future with the talent that we will see during our event.”
“Black designers and creatives have long been disruptors and innovators who have inspired and transformed the fashion industry at-large and continue to be leaders of culture across the globe–and yet who have not received correspondent levels of recognition for their contributions,” added Latraviette Smith-Wilson, Essence’s Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer. “Essence Fashion House puts a well-earned spotlight on the power and pervasiveness of their creativity and serves as a platform for them to be duly acknowledged during one of the most recognized weeks in global fashion.”