Empowering Female Leaders: Uncovering Rechelle Dennis’ Vision for the Atlanta 2023 ESSENCE Girls United Disruptor Summit Monday 06 November, 2023

I had the opportunity to interview Rechelle Dennis, Co-Creator and Program Manager of Essence Girls United. This insightful interview provides a sneak peek into what we can anticipate at the 2023 ESSENCE Girls United Disruptor Summit happening on November 11th in Atlanta. Dive into the interview with Rechelle Dennis to discover more about the GU brand and gain a deeper understanding of the “Era of Disruption.

RECHELLE DENNIS Co-Creator/ Program Manager – Essence Girls United

How did GU start?

Rechelle: Girls United started in 2019 and so it’s really just knowing and understanding the need for a legacy brand like ESSENCE to speak to the next generation of Essence. We know everybody grows up with an Essence magazine on their mom’s coffee table or on their grandma’s coffee table, but it was time to redefine what Essence meant to them or means to them.

We launched Girls United in 2019 and it really started with our partnership with Ulta Beauty where six young women were selected to produce a limited edition makeup collection, sold in Ulta.

They also won $10 ,000 to go towards college. And so with that, that really gave us the proof that things like this are needed, that us being able to work with our corporate partners, us being able to speak to our community and connect our community to these corporate partners and vice versa, it’s really important to be able to connect and be able to be the source and the place for this audience to get the tools and the resources to go after their dreams and go after what it is that they want to pursue and during life’s milestones. So that’s a quick overview of how Girls United got started. But most importantly, as we look at ESSENCE and seeing it grow right to the brand that it is today, the legacy brand that it is today, speaking to that next generation, that next generation that consume things differently, that speak differently, that talk differently, that have different ideologies. It’s important to also make sure that we are for every type of Black women.

ESSENCE is a transgenerational brand and how will GU help bridge the gap and growing with the magazine? 

Rechelle: Gen Z is a generation that first grew up with technology probably since the day that they opened their eyes. So different mediums of technology and just also been able to see the acceleration of technology from TV and radio to movies and to social media.

Everything has kind of been flipped on its head and has challenged what media is. And so as Essence grows and also comes into this next generation into the future and how to target it, Gen Z is a generation also that can’t be put into boxes.

There are multiple different things sometimes all at once and sometimes just multiple things, right? They can’t be or they’re identified multiple different things. They’re on digital, right? So they’re reading everything from a digital perspective first.

They’re going online. Everything is social oriented. Social is one of the big components of how news, media, information, even opportunities are spread through social media. And so the idea is with everything moving and accelerating in the pace of digital first, and social first, how do we also leverage, right, the publication and the legacy of Essence and how do we speak to these audiences that are on social media and how do we talk to them in the way that they speak?

Because Gen Z will automatically call things out if they don’t feel like it’s genuine or if they feel like it’s not for them.

What are some unique social issues that Gen Z is currently facing, which other generations have not encountered? Additionally, what topics is Gen Z discussing that would create a strong bond between GU?

Rechelle: We know that this audience hasn’t had the same resources as their counterparts, especially as it relates to internships, as it relates to mentorship and most importantly, access. And what we’re solving and how we’re solving it is really making sure that at our summit, we are providing tools and resources and information that they can’t receive or won’t receive anywhere else, making sure that everything that they take away is tangible that they can apply to their career.

 We know that career is a path to financial freedom and creating that equitable pathway to achieving what we call financial freedom and creating those opportunities for them to be able to take what they’re doing to the next level.

And so with building the summit, it was very important that we were able to provide them with those things and provide them also with the access like our speed mentoring. We have basically it’s almost like speed dating, but it’s for mentorship.

So we have a whole bunch of different executives and a whole bunch of different, you know, successful leaders that are going to be volunteering their time to give our audience the ability to rotate between them and have three -minute conversations and switch off.

This GU DISRUPTOR SUMIT is being able to give them the ability to have access to people that might give them information to change their lives.

What was the inspiration behind choosing the theme “The Era of Disruption” for this year’s summit?

Rechelle: We were thinking about this theme, we were really just thinking about How can we create disruption and then we were like boom there it is the air of disruption And so it’s really about creating disruption in whatever field or industry that you’re in And disruption doesn’t even have to just be within your career or within an industry but also within yourself, right?

How are you maybe battling through and and causing disruption in whatever? Maybe it’s a pattern you have or maybe it’s you know your ideology on something. So it’s really about how you can expand upon yourself Holistically So as we think about disruption, right?

We think about all the different disruptors that have led the way for us You know that have disrupted things that maybe you know, we’re You know, we’re standardized or something that you know never happened before And how they just came in and just completely disrupted it You know and to me disruption also is about kind of having no, you know, no bars and and really Being able to step out of your comfort zone and break the through that class ceiling or whatever it is that may be limiting you.

Could you provide some details about the activities planned for the Disruptors Summit and what makes the selection of these particular celebrities so exciting for attendees?

Rechelle: There will be a lot of  photo moments, right because Gen Z, its photos or it never happened!   We have our speed mentoring, workshops, panels and conversations.

We do have a pretty pretty big lineup of  celebrities, but not just regular celebrities, but ones that have the ability to speak to something that’s beyond just just their industry.

You know we have Jordyn Woods, And then we have  South African sensation Tyla who is definitely creating a lot of disruption within the space of music.  So, you know we definitely have a lot of disruptors and a lot of people that align with our theme of Era of  disruption.

Attendees can register for complimentary tickets to attend the 2023 ESSENCE Girls United Disruptor Summit and learn more at https://www.essence.com/gusummit2023, which will also be available for virtual attendees at ESSENCE.com and GirlsUnited.ESSENCE.com. GU fans can join the conversation on social media at@ESSENCEGU on Instagram & Twitter, as well as by using the hashtag #GUDisruptorSummit.

About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty

Kiwi is the free spirited blogger and content creator of KiwiTheBeauty.com. As a digital influencer, she produces creative inspiration around beauty, lifestyle, media and travel leisure. Her life mantra is to make manifesting fun! When she’s not blogging, she is eating trendy hipster food, carrying crystals, making it rain at her local farmer's market and binge brunching. Follow her on her blog and social media at kiwithebeauty.com + @kiwithebeauty

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