Magazines are all glossy photos and clever headlines, riveting stories and advertisements designed to tempt the reader. But for Page One Publishing, its magazines — YAM, Douglas and Spruce — are really all about community, and it’s been that way for 25 years and counting.
On a Tuesday at 10 a.m., Page One H.Q. — a small, brick building near Uptown — is buzzing. Camera bags in hand, the director of photography rushes out the door to a photo shoot across town. Two advertising consultants walk past him, returning from a successful client meeting. The art department works on the beautifully designed pages the magazines are known for. In editorial, computer keyboards click-clack rapidly, adding a percussive beat as writers and editors craft the stories of Greater Victoria.
Directing all this creative energy are the owners of Page One Publishing, Lise Gyorkos and Georgina Camilleri.
“Our team has different interests and areas of expertise, and that helps us publish magazines that everyone loves to read,” Gyorkos says. “The impact the team has made on this city makes me so proud.”
She and Camilleri teamed up 25 years ago, back when the pair were working for another publisher. “Georgina was the art director and I was the production manager,” says Gyorkos. “We really liked working together, both as friends and colleagues, and we knew we wanted to start our own publishing business.”
In 1998, they founded Page One Publishing. Working out of Camilleri’s basement, at first they produced custom print publications for tourism organizations. “Humble beginnings,” Camilleri says with a laugh.
As new business owners, the pair immersed themselves in Victoria’s business community, where they quickly spotted a gap in the magazine market: Nobody was producing hyper-local content for and about Victoria-based entrepreneurs and business owners.
So they decided to start a business magazine.
In 2006, the first issue of Douglas hit newsstands, its name an homage both to Douglas Street and the local Douglas fir tree.
“By starting a business magazine, we thought we could address the need for local business content,” says Gyorkos.
“But we also saw it was a way to learn about entrepreneurship from business leaders here.”
Camilleri adds: “There were areas we hadn’t worked before that were completely new to us. We hadn’t been using many freelancers, we hadn’t had to look after distribution before, we didn’t have a sales team, we had to hire writers and create a business strategy.”
But that was just the beginning.
Victoria’s popular lifestyle magazine YAM began as an insert in Douglas (its name an acronym for “you and me”), and in 2009 became its own standalone publication. It was joined in 2017 by the home-and-design magazine Spruce.
At the same time, Page One created some of Victoria’s most popular and influential events. In 2009, Douglas held its first 10 to Watch Awards, which have become a powerful launching pad for new businesses in Greater Victoria. And in 2018, YAM hosted its first Best Restaurant Awards, a heartfelt celebration of the city’s restaurant industry. “People have expressed that winning an award from a Page One event has been life-changing,” says Camilleri. “Working with our awesome team to have that kind of effect is very rewarding.”
All these years later, what sets Page One apart from so many others is their passion for the community they cover, from supporting local businesses during the height of the pandemic to following thoughtful sales practices that never compromise on editorial content. As Gyorkos says, “We offer marketing opportunities that we think will get our clients the best return on their investment and we are very grateful to them for supporting us over the years.”
So what’s next? Along with continuing to cover the community they love, build their subscription base and develop their online offerings, in 2024 the Page One team is launching both its “Spruce Up” series of reader events and its first-ever Spruce Awards of Excellence honouring individuals in the home, design and building industries. And they have even more projects in the works.
“We are excited about the future for Victoria and Page One Publishing,” says Camilleri. “We embrace change and love to feel like we’re moving forward.”