On May 11, EBONY and Rhum Barbancourt partnered for LEGACY, a special event to celebrate their companies' longevity. Held at the Brooklyn Atrium in New York City, EBONY CEO Eden Bridgeman Sklenar and Delphine Gardere, CEO of Rhum Barbancourt, sat down with host Angela Yee to discuss the stories, strategies, and mechanics behind running their successful entities, which encompass a 235-year history between the two iconic brands.
Lauren O’Brien at LEGACY event. Image: Jamel Martin.
Deep tropical hues of blue, green and red and lush greenery filled the well-lit space and reflected the rum brand's Haitian heritage. DJ Zeke's playlist of Afrobeats and Haitian music created a vibe where guests swayed to the beat while sipping on Rhum Barbancourt cocktails and captured their images in front of a door size Rhum Barbancourt bottle photo station. Lauren O’Brien of Netflix's Drink Masters masterminded the Rhum Barbancourt Cocktail hour featuring specialty Barbancourt cocktails. Fueled by Culture set the evening's ambiance under the creative direction of Toni Antrobus.
Delphine Gardere, CEO of Rhum Barbancourt, and EBONY CEO Eden Bridgeman Sklenar at LEGACY event. Image: Jamel Martin.
Host Angela Yee opened the LEGACY evening panel with, "This is all about legacy. This is all about Black boss women." Rhum Barbancourt is a Haitian rum brand established in 1862 that has been family-owned and operated for five generations. Gardere spoke about the challenges involved with securing financial investments. “One of the banks that I pitched to help me on a leveraged buyout, they just didn't believe in me, as a woman running a liquor business. I still get that sometimes,” she shared. “This is something that we still have to bring awareness about.”
Founded in 1945, EBONY remains a leading African American lifestyle publication and a cultural touchstone. The publication has featured some of the most notable figures in African American history over six decades. Bridgeman Sklenar, who took over the role of CEO in July 2022, revealed how she’s learned to make her voice heard in the executive world. “I have two older brothers, but I was fortunate enough to grow up seeing my mother's presence, that she was the boss in her domain allowed me to understand how I can show up as a leader.”
Bridgeman Sklenar also spoke about how she has spearheaded EBONY's reemergence for a new generation. "We had to emerge onto the digital space," she declared. "We had to find our voice again and you're starting to see that transformation of the digital covers, taking a nod from the history of the iconic magazine to putting out content that moves and it breathes." Along with the stunning imagery, Bridgeman Sklenar says the new covers are designed to engage people in necessary conversations, "showcasing our excellence, but also challenging the stereotypes that surround us."