Meet the executive who helped Essence to generate the highest revenue in its 50-year history 

Dollita Okine July 06, 2023
Pauline has also driven the highest festival revenue in ESSENCE's history and repositioned the value of the brand portfolio in the market. Photo Credit: Pauline Malcolm-Thornton via LinkedIn

Early in 2022, Pauline Malcolm-Thornton began serving as Essence Ventures‘ first-ever Chief Revenue Officer. Since joining, she has had a significant impact on the company, helping to generate the most revenue in Essence’s 50-year history. 

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Pauline exclusively about what has kept Essence a staple for so long. The strong leader has over twenty years of experience leading and building dynamic sales organizations in the entertainment and tech sectors.

Pauline has led ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ Presented by Coca-Cola®’s first-ever streaming partnership with Hulu since joining Essence Ventures. She has also driven the highest festival revenue in ESSENCE‘s history and repositioned the value of the brand portfolio in the market.  

“New Orleans is the epicenter of Black culture, in terms of richness and culture to music and food; it’s so deeply influenced by West Africa. So for us, it’s very intentional to be in a city deeply cemented in our culture. We are deeply linked to New Orleans because it truly reflects who we are,” she shared.

Pauline shared that the brand has acquired numerous businesses over the past two years. In addition to acquiring Beautycon, the largest beauty festival in the world, which is making its debut in New Orleans, they have changed their name to Essence Ventures and are now a part of the Essence portfolio.

She also disclosed that a different Beautycon festival will take place in Los Angeles on September 16 and 17. Pauline revealed that the business also owns AFROPUNK, which made its debut this year at Essence.

The Brooklyn Music Festival and Essence Studios, which feature in-depth Black women’s stories, are just two events that demonstrate how Blackness is not a monolith across all of their brands.

Pauline noted, “You’re going to see more acquisitions of other businesses to grow our over-arching storytelling platform to the Black community and beyond. For instance, Beautycon serves all races [and] genders, it’s all-inclusive. So you’ll see more of that to come.”

Since Essence was her only source of representation while she was growing up, she sees her current job as bringing her life full circle by connecting her youth to the present.

“I grew up with plastic covers on the sofa and Essence on the coffee table,” said Pauline. “That was the only place we could see ourselves as a young Black girl.”

To Pauline, being a member of the executive leadership team put together to guide Essence into the next 50 years feels like living through history every single day.

Pauline is a highly respected media and advertising technology executive and entrepreneur. She oversees sales operations, sales strategy, account management, and sales at Essence Ventures.

She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Baruch College, where she also minored in Computer Science. She also received a certificate in executive management from Harvard Business School.

Additionally, she is a board member of the Cayton Museum, Los Angeles’ sole children’s museum. She is a mother, as well as an executive.  

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: July 6, 2023


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