Shea Moisture founder and CEO, Mr. Richelieu Dennis has recently announced via Twitter that Essence magazine has returned to 100 percent Black ownership for the first time in nearly two decades.
“It is with great joy that we announced that Essence is under new ownership and is now an independent African-American owned company,” he said.
While that is a win for the Black community, the question still remains: Has the CEO and his other company Shea Moisture been forgiven for their inclusive advertising mistake produced by Shea Moisture just April of last year?
Shea Moisture received backlash from Black women and throughout the natural hair community, The products were advertised to women with natural hair via YouTube and blog sites catering to women with naturally kinky curl types.
According to Ebony magazine, the “Break Free from Hair Hate” campaign did not receive the love and acceptance it wanted from the wider base to whom it was trying to expand. The ads featured White women and light-toned Black women. Many women took to social media sites to express anger with the company’s decision to feature advertisements without darker-toned women or women with more coarse hair.
Not only did Shea Moisture issue a statement from their Facebook account, but Mr. Dennis also apologized while visiting The Breakfast Club. First, via Facebook, Shea Moisture explained, “Wow, okay – so guys, we really f-ed this one up. … We are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intend to communicate.”
During the interview with The Breakfast Club, Mr. Dennis said that he recognizes his core has gotten the company this far and wishes to make sure they are representing their customers as such.
“We’re the brand that has stood up for women to say: ‘Hey, you should be able to wear your hair as it grows out of your head.’ We want our core to move forward with us. We don’t want to move on without them, and we don’t want them to feel like we’re moving on without them,” Mr. Dennis explained.
Representatives from Essence spoke of being excited to return this culturally relevant and historically significant platform to ownership by the people and consumers whom it serves and offer new opportunities for the women leading the business. So Mr. Dennis is showing the community he is a part of that he is committed to it 100 percent.