Taylor’d by name, tailored by game

Taylor’d by name, tailored by game
In an industry that prides itself on minimising touch points, this bespoke Melbourne printer actually gets a kick out of maximising them.
Printing is not just printing for James and Kirsten Taylor.
 
It is an art form, an expression and something that the slightest temperature spike or humidity can upset. It is a craft at which this husband and wife team throw every ounce of themselves at in the pursuit of perfection for their customers.
 
In an industry teeming with software to reduce touchpoints, speed up production and pre-emptively strike on the slightest print registration error, Taylor’d Press prides itself on being hands on with an exemplary attention to detail to each and every piece produced. 
 
When walking into this bustling operation at Knoxfield in outer Melbourne, you could be forgiven for thinking it was part museum, part print shop and part home. A Lego table is set up for the kids, a gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer named Hazel roams around keeping an eye on things.
 
 Amongst all of that there are several pieces of olden day Heidelberg platen presses that are constantly in use to letterpress, foil and formecut the company’s beautiful masterpieces ranging from business cards, menus, drink coasters and invitations.
 
Bringing some high volume offset capacity to the operation is a two colour Heidelberg Speedmaster 52, the workhorse of the business.
 
It handles all of the businesses’ spot colour and it is not uncommon for an item to pass through it a number of times to get the number of colours needed. 
 
“A job the other day had six colours, CMYK plus two spot colours so it went through the Speedmaster three times,” James Taylor tells ProPrint.
 
“It’s a bit tricky and we usually get priced out of the market because of the time it takes for us to do it but our attention to detail is quite high.”
 
Attention to detail and charging a premium for the bespoke service hasn’t been a hinderance though.
 
It’s been over 20 years since a teenaged James Taylor began Taylor’d Press.
 
Since then the business has moved from rented premises in Melbourne’s Cremorne to the current site at Knoxfield, which the Taylors bought and modified to suit their needs in 2017.
 
The move brought the couple closer to home and as such has lent itself to a much healthier work-life balance for the whole family. 
 
Kirsten and James Taylor at Taylor’d Press
 
Fifteen years ago James’ then girlfriend Kirsten came on board to look after the accounts and administration side of the business and from there you could say the rest is history.
Kirsten quickly developed a love of the printed form and the joy is still clearly evident in the work they produce.
 
For Kirsten, a passion for print and a thirst for more knowledge about the craft led to her completing a three year apprenticeship through Spectra. 
 
An after-hours run-in five years ago with a print broker who she says made her feel as though she didn’t know what she was talking about also spurred her on to do the  apprenticeship. 
 
“At the end of the day he was a bit like ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ and I thought ‘hang on a minute I’ve worked for this business for 13 years and I do all of the estimating’,” says Kirsten.
 
“The only thing I didn’t know how to do was to actually put the image onto the stock. So that got my goat up.”
 
Kirsten has also been doing what she can to aid the Australian printing industry as a whole.
She is a current board member for PrintEx19, which is due to be held in Sydney in August, and is Victoria’s Women in Print patron.
 
Currently she is also undertaking further study with Women and Leadership Australia.
Another string to her bow is her appearance in the ProPrint Power 50, which recognises the top 50 print leaders and innovators in Australia, for three years running.
 
Printing is a labour of love for the Taylors and the dedication is paying off.
 
What started as a relatively small order of 1,000 debit card mailers for Australia’s first next-generation digital bank Up in December will by April 2019 have sprouted into an order in the six figure range, with no sign of a slowdown.
 
Each one of these eye catching bright yellow beer matt mailers on 400gsm stock took three steps to produce including print, production and assembly and no less than six human touches.
 
To deliver this mighty project the Taylors quickly realised they would need extra hands on deck and a forward plan to keep their production schedule on time for all of their clients.
 
Their parents stepped up to the plate, as they often do in busy periods, and  they’ve also employed two extra production staff to make sure the orders are despatched to the standard they have long built their reputation on.
 
One of the specially handcrafted Up debit card mailers
 
“It has been a gift and we often wonder how this has fallen into our lap but that said we are extremely thankful for it,” Kirsten says.
 
“It is sensational but now we have to really forward plan to make sure we keep delivering to Up but also look after all our other clients.”
 
The finished product is a touch-feely, solid debit card mailer that for a bank with only an online presence is likely to give its customers that all important and hard to buy feeling of reliability and trust.
 
Dealing with the Up rush: Kirsten’s parents Elaine and Geoff lend a hand
 
Getting in with Melbourne’s design agencies two decades ago was what gave Taylor’d Press the pass to enter this dynamic and creative world of bespoke printing.
 
James being a self-professed control freak when it comes to quality and Kirsten’s honesty about realistic production timeframes keeps them there.
 
 “We got in with the graphic designers very early like 20 years ago and we happened to be doing the right kind of work, spot colour work, at the right time in the market,” James says.
 
“Now our work has gone on from doing spot colour to foiling and letterpress in house.
 
“We enjoy it and it just keeps growing from there but you can get to a certain point where you keep growing, gain additional staff and risk the quality dropping because I’m not in control and I suppose
I’m a control freak.”
 
On the upside James says this is what keeps the clients coming back because he says they know they will get what they want and in the promised timeframe.
 
“There’s only a few people in Melbourne who can do that,” James says.
 
As orders continue to increase maintaining quality control will always be an issue for an operation like Taylor’d Press.
 
But the Taylors have a clear plan in place to manage these potential hurdles.
First and foremost is James Taylor’s eagle eye at the press and second is Kirsten’s commitment to honesty about timeframes.
 
For Kirsten being honest and realistic with her clients about how long it is going to take to complete a job is the only way forward.
 
“At the end of the day we are honest about what our clients are going to get,” she says.
“If you communicate that and keep that channel open, be honest about what you can do. Like if I tell someone it’s going to take one week to turn around an offset plus a finish and then glue it together when I know it’s going to take a week for the glue to dry then that’s not good,” she said. “So, just being realistic and honest.”
 
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