Beauty platform and festival BeautyCon has been acquired by Richelieu Dennis’ Essence Ventures in a foreclosure sale. Founded in 2011 by Marina Curry and Jonathan Buford, the once celebrated event’s financial issues first began surfacing in 2019 with reports of sweeping staff layoffs first, followed by additional staff cuts in March 2020. The company was further hurt by pandemic-related shut downs of all in-person events. Essence Ventures, which holds a portfolio including Essence Communications, Afropunk, and Naturally Curly, among other brands, has stated that BeautyCon will be revived.
According to The Wrap, the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy, but New York-based Essence Ventures, which was owed approximately $5 million in loans, announced Friday (October 1, 2021) that it had acquired the company’s assets in a foreclosure sale, including the BeautyCon name, website and extensive list of customers.”
CEO Moj Madhara, who had lead the company since 2015, is no longer with the platform and the website has been taken down. The brand’s Instagram feed with 608,000 followers hasn’t been updated since July 2020. In the most recent Instagram post allowing comments, multiple commenters complained about difficulty obtaining a refund for the cancelled 2020 events. According to WWD, much of BeautyCon’s challenges were attributed to a “toxic corporate culture led by Mahdara, a charismatic orator who many said lacks the operational expertise necessary to manage a global events business.”
In a press release on the acquisition, Dennis stated, “BeautyCon is an incredible brand founded by Marina Curry, a Black woman and pioneer who brought greater diversity to the beauty and media industries. We also thank Moj Mahdara, BeautyCon’s former CEO, for her hard work and dedication to scale the company and build a diverse and inclusive community around beauty and fashion. We wish her the best in all of her future endeavors. 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.”
On plans for the revival, Dennis added, “BeautyCon has real impact,” said Dennis. What they’ve built over the years has been a place where we’ve taken what used to be exclusive, and we’re now going to make it inclusive. We’re going to see ourselves show up in ways that we haven’t shown up and in ways that we should show up. We’re going to see brands take the stage and the claim. We’re going to see creators get an opportunity to shine and show their work and be appreciated for it, and be compensated for it, and get an opportunity to build businesses around it.”
Noting that the platform will take a more geographically inclusive approach, Dennis stated, “We’re going to see a localized approach that enables the young woman in St. Louis to experience her beauty in her way as well. New York and L.A. are not the only places that beauty exists. They are not the only places that define beauty. And what we endeavor to do is to make sure that every woman, no matter what ethnicity, no matter what background, no matter socio, no matter what race she comes from, gets to experience her beauty. And that she gets to do that on a local level and on a global level.”