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Pauline Malcolm-Thornton joined Essence Ventures as their first ever Chief Revenue Officer in early 2022 and since joining, she has made immediate impact driving the highest revenue in Essence’s 50-year history.
With over two decades of experience leading and building dynamic sales organizations in the entertainment and tech sector, The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Pauline onsite in New Orleans about what’s made Essence an essential staple for so long.
Mentioning Oprah Winfrey and Vice President Kamala Harris, both of whom spoke the day before, Pauline asked, “Where else can you go where you have the two most powerful Black women on the planet speak back-to-back?”
Since joining Essence Ventures, Pauline spearheaded ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ Presented by Coca-Cola®’s first-ever streaming partnership with Hulu in 2022 while also driving the highest festival revenue in ESSENCE’s history repositioning the value of the brand portfolio in the marketplace.
“New Orleans is the epicentre 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 News Orleans because it truly reflects who we are.”
In a single year, Pauline has transformed Essence Ventures ad sales business into a modern multimedia & technology company—future proofing the business for the next decade.
“We’ve made a lot of acquisitions over the past couple of years, including Essence, which is a portfolio of Essence Ventures. We’ve also acquired Beautycon, which is the largest beauty festival in the world and it’s making its debut here.”
“There will also be a standalone Beautycon festival September 16 and 17 in Los Angeles. We also own AFROPUNK, which made its debut at Essence this year,” says Pauline. “Along with the Brooklyn Music Festival at the end of August and Essence Studios which feature long form Black women stories, across all of our brands you’re seeing Blackness is not monolithic.”
“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, genders, it’s all inclusive. So you’ll see more of that to come.”
Pauline is a graduate of Baruch College with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing and a minor in Computer Science. Pauline also earned her Executive Management Certificate from Harvard Business School.
She also serves as a board member at the Cayton Museum, the only children’s museum in Los Angeles. Pauline resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.
“I’m not just an executive, I’m a mom. Growing up, we didn’t have the representation outside of Essence so this is a full circle moment for me connecting my childhood to the next generation.”
“I grew up with plastic covers on the sofa and Essence on the coffee table,” says Pauline. “That was the only place we could see ourselves as a young Black girl.”
She continued, “Fast forward to now, being a part of the executive leadership team assembled to lead Essence into the next 50 years, I’m living through history every single day.”
Pauline is a leading Media & Advertising Tech Executive and Entrepreneur. At Essence Ventures, she leads Sales, Sales Strategy, Account Management and Sales Operations.
“We have over 250 vendors in our marketplace. Through our SOKO NO.LA marketplace, we have the largest Black marketplace in the world. These vendors make a bulk of their revenue in this three-day weekend because of our united economic buying power.”
While Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z is her favorite rapper of all time, she maintains a love for Nas, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot and so many others who have made contributed to the global art form.
Asked what Essence Fest means to her, Pauline responded, “Black Joy, Excellence, and Queendom.”