Celebrity Entrepreneurs Bell Biv DeVoe, Karamo, Draya Michelle, Gizelle Bryant and More Join the Virtual ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit



NEW YORK--()--At the close of a year where an unprecedented pandemic, economic disparity and record-breaking unemployment disproportionately affected millions of Black women and communities, ESSENCE reinforces its 50-year commitment to equipping Black women with the resources they need to thrive. On Wednesday, December 9, from 6PM–9PM ET, ESSENCE—the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities—will host the ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit focused on providing information and insights to support the dynamic career and entrepreneurship aspirations of its community. During this robust virtual experience that will be streamed on ESSENCEStudios.com, attendees will have access to enlightening conversations, interactive sessions and more.

With a critical understanding of the varying challenges faced by Black-owned businesses in 2020, ESSENCE will unite business owners at all stages to share their experiences and advice on how brands can reach greater success in 2021.

“Even in the midst of one of what many would consider to be one of the most tumultuous years in our lifetime, we believe that there are brighter days ahead—especially for Black women as they pursue economic and financial equity in the workplace and in business,” said Caroline Wanga, Interim CEO of ESSENCE. “The ESSENCE + New Voices Virtual Entrepreneur Summit will provide the tools, insights and even secrets from foremost business leaders who will empower and position our audience for success in 2021 and beyond. From the White House to the boardroom, we know that Black women are poised to win, and ESSENCE will be there to chronicle their wins and to support them every step of the way.”

“2020 birthed an unprecedented global uncertainty. Even so, the resilience and agility that Black women leverage to thrive is alive and well, and equity in our lived experiences is still of utmost prominence on the economic, health, safety, and racial societal agenda.” said Caroline Wanga, Interim CEO of ESSENCE. “The ESSENCE + New Voices Virtual Entrepreneur Summit will commemorate and honor, spotlight & strengthen and position & prepare Black women for the next phase of economic inclusion and growth—through the voices and insights of the best leaders in business and enterprise in a way that only ESSENCE can deliver.”

Summit workshops will include:

  • Power Moves with Power Players: A reflective and forward-looking conversation on finding lucrative success as thriving entrepreneurs in and outside of the entertainment industry.
    • Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD)
      • Michael Bivins, CEO, Sportyrich Enterprises & Music Mogul
      • Ronnie DeVoe, Owner, DeVoe Real Estate
      • Ricky Bell, CEO, RNB Entertainment
    • Chauncey Hamlett, VP/CMO, South Division, Pepsico Beverages North America
    • Michele Thornton Ghee, Visionary Leader, Speaker, Author, CEO, Stratechic, LLC
  • Hustle & Hollywood: Finding Success As A Celebrity Entrepreneur: Following business dreams despite demanding schedules, busy family lives, and the constant watch of the ever-critical public eye.
    • Karamo, Co-founder, MANTL
    • Gizelle Bryant, Founder, EveryHueBeauty
    • Draya Michelle, Founder, MintSwim
    • Caroline Wanga, ESSENCE Interim CEO
  • Show Me the Money: Business pioneers sharing their experiences and advice on securing venture capital funding to grow to the next level.
    • Ashlee Ammons & Kerry Schrader, Founders, Mixtroz | New Voices
    • Kimberly Bryant, Founder & Executive Director, Black Girls CODE
    • Pinky Cole, Founder, Slutty Vegan
    • Yvonne McNair, CEO and Founder, Captivate Marketing Group
  • Next Generation Boss: A roundtable of next-generation leaders and Black business owners – under the age of 18 – on what entrepreneurship looks like in a new era of possibilities.
  • Advancing Black Entrepreneurs by Chase for Business: The Power of Capital – Start, Run, Grow: JPMC experts on the power of capital through the business lifecycle, including thinking strategically about cash flow, credit options, SBA/business banking loans, and more.
    • Tosh Ernest, Head of Wealth, Advancing Black Pathways, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    • Racquel Oden, Managing Director, Head of National Sales & Support, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    • Renae Bluitt, Creator & Executive Producer, "She Did That"
    • Lavonda Davis, Vice President, Business Relationship Manager, Chase for Business
    • Leyonna Barba, Executive Director, Middle Market Banking, Technology & Disruptive Commerce, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Transform to Thrive in a Digital World, Presented by Microsoft: Reimagining ways to stay on the leading edge to thrive in the digital world – whether learning new skills, partnering for success, or digitizing marketing. This panel to share how to use technology to elevate your business.
    • Amie Seisay, Founder and CEO, Seisay IT Solutions
    • Tina Eskridge, Sr. Director of Marketing, Microsoft
    • Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-founder, i.c.stars
    • Samantha Thompson, Search Engine Marketing Strategist
  • Aveeno®: Perfecting Your Pitch, Presented by Aveeno®: Have an idea, a product or a vision that could use a boost to bring your entrepreneurial dreams to life? Skin health and beauty industry experts to share best practices on how to present yourself and perfect your pitch to spark interest in you and your business.
    • Alfred A. Edmond Jr., SVP/editor-at-large of BLACK ENTERPRISE
    • Abena Boamah, CEO, Hanahana Beauty
    • Tonya Thompson & Sharie Wilson, Founders, DreamGirls
    • Cameka Smith, Founder & CEO, The BOSS Network

The Summit culminates the ESSENCE Level Up & Thrive Virtual Event Series, which was designed to help entrepreneurs and business professionals put their 2021 career goals in motion. It kicked off on December 3 with the ESSENCE E-Suite: The Art of the Pivot.

Sponsors for this event are Advancing Black Entrepreneurs by Chase for Business, Aveeno®, Walmart, Pepsi and Microsoft.

For more information or to register for the ESSENCE + New Voices Virtual Entrepreneur Summit, visit ESSENCE.com.

About ESSENCE Communications, Inc.

Essence Communications is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 31 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.


Sheila Harris, ESSENCE


Sheila Harris, ESSENCE