Esther Lafontant: At the Reigns of Amour Creole Magazine
Could publishing a magazine for Haitians living in the United States—with mass appeal to other Caribbeans in the middle of a much-publicized decline of print—be a success? Esther Lafontant thought so.
The former model and fashion industry employee put her mind to work, formulating a publication she named Amour Creole. With an ever-growing subscriber base, as well as an online version, the magazine which recently celebrated its first year, has had cover stories featuring a host of luminaries: singer Dawn Richard, actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, celebrity chef Manoushka Guerrier, and teen heartthrobs Olivier Duret and Jason Derulo. The efforts of Lafontant and her staff have paid off; this year Amour Creole joined other major magazines on the racks of national newsstands as one of the content-heavy publications targeting black and Caribbean readers. It’s been quite a journey for Lafontant, a single mother who immigrated to the United States and is now based out of Boston.
At which point did you get the concept for Amour Creole? I always wanted to do something that would uplift the Haitian community in the U.S. and show the beauty of my people and culture. I had the idea for a magazine for a long time – I felt like it was the best medium to display the beauty of my people and culture.
There’s this impression that it’s doomsday for the magazine and print industry in general. Yes, the last couple of years have been very difficult for print because of the other media outlets. The numbers for print seem to be rising again and there is still an impressive demand for print. People like to curl up with a magazine, feel the pages. Experts say print will be around for a long time. Amour Creole is such a new niche, our target market loves the direction of Amour Creole. There’s clearly a big need for it in our community.
What do you feel sets apart Amour Creole from other Caribbean lifestyle and entertainment publications? Amour Creole covers a range of topics. We are very diverse in our writing. We don’t focus on just one aspect like most other magazines. We cover so much: beauty, fashion, entertainment, culture, etc. I think our in-depth, well researched features are a huge part of capturing readers attention. And we cater to a bigger audience. We are not just a women or men’s magazine. We are the people’s magazine.
Any aspect of your background that made starting and operating Amour Creole a little smoother? Not necessarily. I modeled for a while and was always part of the fashion industry, but nothing related to publishing.
The arrival of the internet killed a lot of other mediums. What do you think will kill it? I maintain the position – every avenue has an end. Where? No one knows.
As the Founder of Amour Creole, and its publisher, what is a typical day like for you? Very stressful. Even though Amour Creole is quarterly it feels like a weekly publication. Our editorial schedule is very tight and we have to get to the next issue before we even close the current one! There are days that my staff and I are in the office until 1 or 2 AM. I am just so grateful that I work with a group of amazing people.
You probably have some counsel for someone delving into the publishing world. Know what you are getting into. Educate yourself as much as you can – go to as many publishing conferences, trade shows and network events that you can. Publishing is a very hard business to get into especially if it’s print publication because they are so many regulations. If you are not prepared, you will fail. When someone sees a finished product, they just see the glamour of it, not the work that goes into putting it together.
What’s in the plans for Amour Creole? The plan for Amour Creole is to become a household name in the Haitian/Caribbean community. I want it to be a name that all Haitians everywhere can be proud of and that will last for many generations.
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