When he started his career, it was clear from the outset that Aleit Swanepoel was destined to create spectacular moments and meaningful memories while also helping people to bring their dreams to life.
This wasn’t only true for the events he became known for, but also for the countless individuals and groups whose lives he touched through his generous spirit and his acts of kindness.
His flamboyant personality, his creative flair, and his enthusiastic dedication to the details, ensured that the name Aleit very quickly became synonymous with extravagantly bespoke occasions, while the ground-breaking creativity of many of his events became a tell-tale trademark.
He was always open to new opportunities and when a gap in the market presented itself, his natural resourcefulness would lead him to develop unique offerings. This spoke of his entrepreneurial mindset and his pursuit for always finding the perfect solution. Aleit never followed trends – he created them. And he distinguished himself as a groundbreaking visionary by setting what has become the highest standards of excellence for the events and hospitality industry.
Aleit was the co-founder of The Aleit Group. What initially started as his own wedding and events coordination consultancy, eventually grew to become a portfolio of independent boutique businesses which, today, represent the very best in hospitality and events management offerings.
Aleit always enjoyed sharing the story of how it all started. In 2002, he was working at Oude Libertas and loved hosting guests who held their events there. He’d found his calling. At that point, wedding and event coordination was not the professionalised industry it is today, and this is where Aleit saw his first opportunity. It was a fateful one, as it set the trajectory for the rest of his career success.
In true Aleit style, he had the courage to take a leap of faith and position himself as South Africa’s first professional wedding and events coordinator. He started off in a small apartment and, armed with a fax machine and an administrative assistant, he quickly grew Aleit Weddings into South Africa’s leading wedding coordination company. As this business grew, Aleit soon realised that the events industry was in dire need of well-educated employees with practical skills. And so the seed was planted for The Aleit Academy.
Together with his friend and business partner, Hans Roosenschoon, the Academy was started in a coffee shop with no formal curriculum and only five students. Almost fifteen years later, the Academy has grown into South Africa’s leading tertiary institution for quality education in hospitality and events management. It offers a fully accredited Diploma curriculum consisting of three years of full-time study, and has a strong focus on practical industry immersion and entrepreneurial development. The hundreds of alumni success stories speak to the success of the Academy.
Around 2012 Aleit felt the need to start passing on the baton in other areas too. Together with his business partner they identified talented Academy alumni who they could employ to take care of the various parts of the business that had started to evolve. Initially it included managing most of the events and weddings being booked (at that point Aleit’s creative touch for unique events was in extremely high demand), but it inadvertently grew into other focus areas as the opportunities arose. Today, there are about 9 different brands representing a portfolio of businesses which, in addition to the Academy, include areas of specialisation like decor and styling, corporate events, venues, food and entertainment, as well as hospitality staffing services.
As Aleit and Hans continued to hand-pick a full-time team to help them manage the respective businesses, Aleit started focusing more of his time pursuing some of his personal passions. He became very popular as a motivational speaker, master of ceremonies, a radio presenter, and as a television show host. With his approachable demeanour and his sense of humour, Aleit’s rise to fame was inevitable and he soon became a much-loved public figure. Despite his fame, his authentically humble and kind nature remained.
Although he will always be remembered for being an innovator, an entrepreneur and a creative genius in the realm of work, what best describes Aleit would be his deep compassion, his wonderful humour, his brilliant smile, his fierce kindness, and a genuine calling to serve. He was never inspired or impressed by superficiality or trends. He always drew his inspiration from his day-to-day-experiences, from his travels, and from those he loved and who he was surrounded by.
As we continue to celebrate the living legacy that Aleit left behind, we also honour his enduring spirit which lives on through his loved ones, his colleagues, the businesses he helped create, and every single person who encountered his caring sincerity, his kindness and his generosity.
It is no wonder that Aleit’s favourite quip was: “If you want to make a difference in the world, start loving the person next to you.”