Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Kiwi Women Publishers Take on the World
What do you get when you combine two dynamic business women, 40 years of book publishing experience, vast educational and parenting nous, and good old Kiwi ingenuity? Clean Slate Press – a 100 percent New Zealand owned and operated publishing company, with a ‘skite sheet’ of prestigious North American customers, including Scholastic Inc (U.S.), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (U.S.) and Nelson Education (Canada).
Busy working mothers and professional women, Frances McBeath (nee Bacon) and Sandy Roydhouse, are the power house behind Clean Slate Press, a business they founded in 2005. Within a year they had established a thriving international educational publishing business and had developed three unique book series.
Their fresh and innovative approach has secured some of the biggest names in children’s writing. At the end of 2007, McBeath and Roydhouse approached world-renowned author Joy Cowley in the hope of becoming her new educational publisher. Despite being approached by a number of large publishers, Cowley chose Clean Slate Press.
Juggling a successful business and family commitments takes energy, passion and tenacity; qualities McBeath and Roydhouse have in spades. As McBeath says, “Our client base is largely in the Northern hemisphere, so I view every day as a 24-hour slot. Family, a long working day and sleep all need to fit in, it's just a case of when. I'm very flexible on the 'when'."
From the outset, McBeath and Roydhouse had their sights set on making a global impression –and a financially viable one – before focusing their energies on the New Zealand market. They did so by selling their product range in far-flung territories, including the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and the UK. Signing Cowley to their list was a master-stroke; her most famous character, Mrs Wishy-Washy having sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
Clean Slate Press now provides high-quality educational resources for New Zealand schools and McBeath and Roydhouse publish the work of many of New Zealand’s best-loved and acclaimed names, including writers such as Joy Cowley, Justin Brown, Frances Adlam, Tanya Batt; and illustrators Philip Webb, Elizabeth Fuller-Fulton, Jenny Cooper and Richard Holt.
Clean Slate Press has enjoyed exponential growth over the past five years and grown from a three-person team to 20 full-time and contract staff, including a team of New Zealand sales representatives. Between 2007 and 2009 their turnover doubled; between 2009 and 2011, it doubled again.
”Growing a successful small business has involved us wearing a lot of different hats”, say McBeath and Roydhouse. “We've folded many flyers and written many books. From lugging boxes of stock around the warehouse to presenting at international conferences – we've done it all."
Clean Slate Press’s product ranges have been specifically designed to meet the achievement objectives of the New Zealand curriculum and to set a gold standard in educational publishing. Their range recognises the importance of providing teachers and students with top-quality products that have been made by New Zealanders, for New Zealanders.
Clean Slate Press publishes books and products that promote dynamic learning across the New Zealand curriculum. In addition to their own innovative literacy products, they have also republished Joy Cowley's well-known early literacy series, previously known as Story Box®. This series has been revamped and re-branded as The Joy Cowley Collection and contains the titles, as both ‘Big Books’ and ‘Small Books’, on which many early literacy programmes have been built, including The Hungry Giant, Mrs Wishy-Washy, and Meanies.
Clean Slate Press is the New Zealand distributor for The Think Tank mathematics activity cards, produced by academics and educators at Origo Education in Australia.
Frances McBeath has worked in book publishing for more than 17 years, including senior management roles in educational publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, has written more than 100 children’s books, and is a shareholder and director of Clean Slate Press. Frances lives in Auckland with her husband, three daughters and stepson.
Sandy Roydhouse has worked in book and magazine publishing for over 25 years and as well as working as a senior manager for a large educational publishing company, has also owned her own education magazine. She is a shareholder and director of Clean Slate Press, has three children and lives in Auckland with her husband.