Getting to Know Tonia Shuttleworth

25th February 2021

Meet the creative mind behind Aotearoa's newest press! Tonia Shuttleworth has worked in the UK's publishing industry as art director and stylist for 17 years and now, back home in Christchurch, she's turned her passion for print into new venture, Koa Press. Koa's gorgeous debut title, Petal Power, is a collab with Style Home and out now. We're feeling inspired after last weekend's Garden Party festival - and Petal Power is just the book to feed our soul indoors and out!

What is your day job?

I am a publisher and director.

What is your connection to Vic Books?

My debut book Petal Power is stocked there and Sarah, the book buyer, kindly invited me to be the subject of the Journal!

What are you working on at the moment? 

I'm currently launching my debut title, Petal Power by Julia Atkinson-Dunn which is an inspiring gardening book aimed at beginner gardeners that might be otherwise a bit daunted by the process.

Congratulations on the launch of your new press! New Zealand boasts a strong independent publishing scene - and Koa is a welcome addition! What is Koa Press's publishing vision?

Thanks, the publication of our first book feels like the first step on a very exciting adventure. Koa Press's vision is very personal for me. I see our books as a way of shining a light on inspiring people and stories that inspire me. Our first book represents all the elements I see as intrinsic to a Koa Press publication - quality design mixed with beautiful imagery and practical yet inspiring copy. My ideal authors are creative, full of vision, energy and with a strong idea to communicate.

You have a background in design and have spent many years in the UK's book & magazine publishing and advertising worlds - what are some of your favourite book designers and art stylists? 

To be honest as I come from a magazine background in the design sense, I would have a longer list of magazine titles - I love Lunch Lady, Frankie magazine and Frankie Spaces. Cereal magazine is a lovely title, and I loved Jamie magazine.

In terms of books, I love A Tree in the House by Annabelle Hickson, and Unna Burch's Forest Cantina book is beautiful. Anna Jones cookbook is beautifully designed also.

Which designers are you looking forward to collaborating with in Aotearoa?

I'm really looking forward to meeting with some like-minded, independent types, that have a really strong idea but aren't sure how of the next step. My main point of difference is I design and publish, and I want the author to be part of the whole process -if they want to! It will always be a small team, and it's important for them to have the book that they always envisaged, with a lot of guidance and support from me. A lot of my experience in London was styling and art directing cookbooks, so that is something I'm looking to pursue.

How do you think the New Zealand publishing industry is different?

It's much smaller of course than what I'm used to in London, but it's really exciting to see all the publishing houses bubbling away around the country - in magazines as well as books. There seems to be a real resurgence of printed matter, and it's so refreshing to see in this digital age. We've had an amazing response nationwide from stockists for Petal Power. Kiwis still want to pick up a book, flick through the pages, and escape for a while.

You launched Koa Press with the gorgeous Petal Power which we sold at The Garden Party this month. What titles can we look forward to next?

Julia and I are already talking about book #2! And I'm in discussions about a recipe book. Watch this space!

Some quick fire book recommendations please!

A Tree in the House by Annabelle Hickson

Two Raw Sisters

Any book by Ottolenghi!

What are you reading at the moment?

What the Face by Blackwell and Ruth publishing in Auckland

What do you like about it?

It's all about nutrition for the skin, and I feel it's teaching me a a lot about how to look after myself. Also, I prop and food styled it last year!

Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?

Alice! Life is one big adventure!

Hardback or paperback?

Both!

Favourite coffee?

Soy flat white.