Perhaps you are among our readers who have been following Éditeur Plus since the beginning and you’re wondering, who is Leeroy Esbend? And who are the people behind the nineteen issues of this growing magazine. It was a treat for me to sit with Leeroy and Marc and chat about the magazine that has brought us together. I was quite eager to hear the story of how it all started for myself.

Leeroy was born in the early 90’s. After his father passed away at an early age, his mother did all she could to build a good life for him. Growing up, Leeroy went to school in the south of Johannesburg and then moved to Pretoria after high school. There he spent time at Hatfield Christian Church, quite involved with the gap year programme, Year of Your Life. This was a place of learning and opportunity for him. He developed video editing, filming and photography skills. His love for dance, vocals and musical instruments also grew in this time. At the end of his time with the programme, Leeroy was appointed as an event coordinator at the church. He worked hard at his job, but also studied and gained numerous qualifications in different fields. He completed advanced courses in social media marketing, digital media and, one of his great passions, interior design. His main focus, however, was photography where he obtained a Diploma specialising in Boudoir Photography. ‘I loved [Boudoir] quite a lot because…it’s about being comfortable in your skin,’ he said.

Throughout his life, Leeroy has had a love for creativity. This love is what sparked the desire to start the magazine. ‘Creative people don’t get showcased a lot,’ observes Leeroy. ‘It’s always about what the business person or engineer is doing with their life.’ He wanted a ‘platform to showcase artistry’, but he felt that he didn’t have the skills to successfully pull it off. ‘I taught myself the skills and [realised I could do it].’ He initially planned to have the magazine publish every three months. Due to his passion and determination, however, Editéur Plus is publishing its Thirteenth Issue in just over a year since its inception. Going live with the First Issue was an interesting blend of emotions for Leeroy. ‘When I first clicked publish, I was terrified,’ he recounts. ‘But the positive thing is that people loved it.’

The French name, Éditeur Plus, was inspired by his mother’s Mauritian heritage. The magazine has had her support from the time when he decided to start it on her couch on Christmas Day, 2015. Since then, it has grown to something more than one person can handle. His team of writers and photographers give a little bit of their time each month to contribute to an article or two for the issue.

Ultimately, it is Leeroy’s vision that draws people to join Éditeur Plus. His desire to create a platform for creatives to showcase their talent has been clearly shown through the nineteen issues of the magazine and the writers and photographers who come on board recognise that and buy into it. Not only does he give those on the team the opportunity to publish and showcase their work, he gives them opportunities to hone their skill.

What makes the team work is each member’s desire to do their best and to see the magazine succeed. Its success is really the fusion of three elements: an editor and a creative director who construct an outstanding layout; creatives, experts in their field, who unapologetically tell their stories, dreams and hopes; and a team of writers who turn their passion into well structures sentences on a page. This team works because so many are determined to go the extra mile, not for the sake of their career or prestige, but for the sake of the magazine.

Marc Davis – ‘son of Brian Davis,’ he adds with a smile – is one such member of the Éditeur Plus team. Marc grew up in Centurion where he still resides and is completing his aviation license. Marc’s passion for flying started at a young age, but it was his curiosity that led him to be involved with the magazine. He completed a social media marketing course during an unstimulating time in his work. This field interested him so when Leeroy, a great friend from Year of Your Life, approached him about working on the magazine, he was game.

Marc’s involvement with the magazine has grown since he has come on board.  His inquiring mind and desire to know the story behind the story and learn different creative processes makes him a great interviewer. ‘I must say, since I’ve been involved with the magazine, I’ve enjoyed it.’ He laughs as he tells the story of the first interview he conducted for Editeur Plus. It was the opening of Hard Rock Café in Pretoria. He was tasked with meeting people and interviewing Hard Rock’s Franchise Area Vice President, Anibal Fernandez. That evening was an emotionally tumultuous one for him. ‘I [was] so nervous,’ he said. ‘That first interview broke the ice for me very quickly as it was recorded on camera.’

When I consider my time with Éditeur Plus, a highlight would also be the opening of Hard Rock Café. As a photographer and writer, it was quite exhilarating to have access to backstage areas and VIP lounges to take pictures and then do a write up of the event. I felt like a real journalist that night. Opportunities like that didn’t exist for me before Editéur Plus. It has been a privilege to join Leeroy on this journey and be part of a publication that is making waves in the South African creative space. I still feel a tinge of anticipation as I wait for each issue to come out. I then send a link to my friends and family with a note saying, ‘My name is on page ten!’

The opportunity to attend Fashion Week has opened up a door to a world that Leeroy is passionate about – fashion – but this will not limit the scope of the magazine. Going forward, Leeroy and the Éditeur Plus team will continue to seek out creatives in fashion design, photography and all art forms. We hope that you will carry on following us through the next nineteen issues and beyond.

By Bekiwe Hlongwane