Paula Deen is getting back in business, ya’ll.
It has been less than a year since Deen admitted on the stand she used a racial slur toward an employee. Since then Deen lost her TV deal with the Food Network, was dropped by her publisher, and lost endorsement deals with Smithfield Hams, diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk, Walmart, and Sears, just to name a few.
Now Deen has found a new partner and is starting a new company – Paula Deen Ventures. This new company will include all of Deen’s restaurants, cruises, cookbooks, cookware and other products that coincide with her traditional Southern fixins’.
Deen’s new business partner is Najafi Media, which is based in Phoenix, and is a private-equity firm and specializes in consumer distribution. The company is investing between $75 million and $100 million to Paula Deen Ventures.
Najafi Media said the investment “will be used to help Deen establish new deals and move away from a pure licensing model, in which she sells her likeness and expertise to others.”
However, Deen is hoping to gain more control by partnering with other companies and retailers.
Paula Deen Ventures has already contacted different television networks, retailers, and other companies to partner with. The company has already hired food-industry veteran Steven Nanula as chief executive of Paula Deen Ventures.
In a statement on Wednesday, Najafi Media Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jahm Najafi, who also owns BMG Music Service, the Book-of-the-Month Club, and is part owner of the Phoenix Suns, said he has “a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” adding, “Our investment allows the Paula Deen brand to expand their relationships and the partnerships that are already in place, and support those partnerships on a go-forward basis.”
Najafi definitely sees this as a positive move for both of Najafi Media and Paula Deen Ventures. “The important thing to remember is that her fan base is rabid. Her Facebook fan base has more than doubled in the past year. The Paula Deen brand is alive and well,” said Najafi.
In case you forgot, or didn’t get a chance to see Deen apologize on Today for using the “N word,” watch the video below.