A few short days from now, thousands of Black folks eager to relax, relate and rejuvenate will flock to The Big Easy for the 2018 Essence Festival, the nation’s premier event dedicated to Black music, film, art, politics, food, fashion and empowerment taking place July 5-8 in New Orleans.
Between now and then, Joy Profet, general manager of Essence Communications Inc., will be leading her team as they work behind the scenes to ensure that workshops, concerts, expos, empowerment sessions and special VIP moments planned for this weekend inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center go off without a hitch.
Festival-goers will find a packed schedule filled with dozens of exciting and engaging sessions and events to choose from. Empowerment workshops led by industry leaders and experts will share valuable advice to help them improve their lives, careers and families. Music stages will welcome the return of beloved entertainers and introduce fans to new artists.
New this year is “Conference & Expos,” an expanded daytime community enrichment experience with a new slate of interactive programming, which will offer experiential content across nine distinctive tracks: technology, entrepreneurship and career; personal finance; beauty and style; entertainment; wellness and spirituality; community and culture; food; and shopping.
Essence has long been and still remains a major influence on Black culture. From beauty to business, this is the space for Black women to engage, learn and flourish. Each year, Profet and her team work to take the event to new heights, and this year’s event is no exception.
To present an event of this magnitude flawlessly each year is no small undertaking, she says. “We have upwards of 3,000 people working on this event…between all of the venues.”
The job is a dream come true for Profet, who, like many little Black girls, read Essence magazine as a child and loved its positive portrayal of Black women, beauty and culture on presented every page. She dreamed of someday working for the iconic brand.
“I’ve had a lot of training to prepare me for this dream come true,” adds Profet, a graduate from Harvard Business School, who worked as an investment banker on Wall Street before joining Essence Communications in July 2008. In addition to planning Essence’s events, she also manages the company’s daily business functions as well as its digital and print operations.
Profet fondly recalls the day she interviewed for the general manager’s position with her role model and mentor, Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications. “I remember her grace, her spirit, her poise and her passion for this brand,” says Profet. “She charged me to continue Essence’s prestigious legacy and celebrate Black womanhood in all its glory.”
That’s what Profet has strived to do over the past decade at Essence to ensure the company’s continued growth and future success. “The way forward for Essence has always been about partnership. It’s only for those select few that are willing to work as hard for Black women that we partner with,” including the larger number of influential brands and corporate sponsors supporting this year’s festival, Profet says.
Essence has remained true to its mission of uplifting and celebrating Black women and culture in deep, authentic and meaningful ways, and it will continue to do so, Profet assures.
Even as she enjoys this weekend’s festival, Profet will be looking forward to next year’s event and beyond as she continues to work to ensure that the company’s strategic vision is carried out across all its platforms and Essence maintains a special place in the hearts of millions of Black women.
“What we bring to our business every day is who we are and who we’ve been as women in our families and communities,” she says. “It’s that ability to identify with ‘her’ and to bring that into our workplace that makes this brand so unique and so invaluable.”
To see the full lineup of events and entertainment at the 2018 Essence Festival, visit https://festival.essence.com/