#dayinthelife with TAIT Design Co.

USA Made


Today’s #dayinthelife spotlight is on TAIT Design Co., a creation company by maker Matthew Tait.  Coming out of his workshop are products striking in design and ones that spark the imagination (no matter your age).  Matthew’s current endeavor includes wooden toy airplanes.  From the entire design, genius product packaging, and hand-pulled silk screening graphics, the planes are undoubtedly a work of art.  Follow TAIT Design Co.’s day in the life, and find out more about Matthew’s goals for the company.   Plus, be sure to REGISTER HERE for a chance to win an original TAIT Turbo Flyer!



What’s the inspiration for your name?

The inspiration behind the name of my company obviously starts with my last name – TAIT. For years, my friends and family have watched me as I tinker away at different projects. Often I have been asked to create custom works ranging from something as simple as a set of table legs to something as crazy as a massive 8 foot spinning “death wheel” to be placed on stage behind a local hardcore band. “Design Co.” was generic enough to encompass any project I would take on in the future so I combined it with my last name; hence, TAIT Design Co.


What pushed you to start your own company?

I was pushed to start my own company for two main reasons. Number one; my greatest passion in life is to make things by hand. There is just nothing better for me than to come up with an idea and see it through from sketch to prototype to final design. I love the iterative process involved in getting something just right. I wanted to start a company based around my passion – it’s the heart and soul of any good business.

Number two; I wanted to create a platform to develop the products in my head that I could not find. There are a lot of products out there (specifically toys) that are just being pumped out by factories with no real imagination, thoughtful detail, and more importantly any regard towards societal/environmental consciousness. The brand I envision for my company is a platform to challenge this thoughtlessness, and every product I release will be tested against those values.


Why did you choose your current product line?

I launched my company in August 2013; my first product is the Turbo Flyer. It is a balsa model airplane kit that comes in a Velcro-latched cardboard case. I choose to work on these planes first because I saw the potential in creating a relatively inexpensive item that a wide segment of consumers would enjoy. Balsa planes are an intrinsic piece of Americana. Kids love Turbo Flyers because they are colorful and fun – they can build the kit, run around the backyard and imagine flying up in the sky, they can challenge their siblings to a throwing contest, or try to see how many loops they can get as they “trick” the plane. Adults love them because they either appreciate the design details or had balsa planes when they were kids – an emotional & nostalgic tie back to the product.


Where do you grab your inspiration for new ideas?

I grab a lot of inspiration from the environment around me. Michigan is blessed with “up-north”, a land filled with pine forests, log cabins, dunes, and the great lakes. I always leave inspired. You can also find a lot of old antique stores and flea markets in that area. It’s a good place to hunt down vintage toys and other nostalgia that tends to influence some of my design work.


What’s your goal for the company in the next 5 years…10 years?

Over the next 5 years I want to slowly grow the business by releasing innovative design-centric products that are developmentally focused, imaginative, and ecologically conscious. I see myself partnering with different organizations and artists to make great work that inspires others to do the same. In 10 years I hope to continue to evolve the company in a position where I am doing more high-level product design and thought leadership, leading a studio dependent upon American sourced materials and manufacturing.


What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your journey?

Be prepared for something to be successful. If you think it’s a good idea, more than likely someone else will too. This is a tough thing to do when you’re starting out, and something I’m still struggling with as I grow the business. Trust your gut and make investments in your infrastructure. If something takes off, you want to be prepared to support the demand.


What key component has made your business successful?

I think it’s of upmost importance to follow something that you’re passionate about in life. I’m extremely passionate about what I’m doing and I think that comes through in the work. Building a network of followers is also extremely important, if no one knows you exist then no one will know you exist! Collaborating with others will add value to your brand and extend that network.


Why is making by American hands important to you?

If you look around you right now, there are most likely hundreds of objects that were made for some form of human consumption. It could be a book, the mug that you just took a sip of coffee from, or the device that you’re reading this on. Every one of those objects has a story. Where did the source materials came from and how were they gathered and processed? What was their journey from the source location to the factory? Who designed and operates the factory? Who works in that factory and how is the object assembled? These are tough questions to answer these days. Along that path an object will touch possibly 1,000’s of lives in some way.

When you buy an object that is 100% sourced and manufactured in the USA, you are contributing in some way to every single one of those people in the object’s story. When you buy American, you stand for the rights of these workers to be upheld under strict labor laws. And at the end of the day these people go out and spend their money at local businesses and help build our economy.

When you buy an object from a country such as China (difficult not to do these days) you cannot guarantee any of these things. When you buy into THAT object’s story you buy into negligent material sourcing, pollution, worker abuse, and contribute to our declining domestic manufacturing base, that has created a vacuum of unemployment in this country.


What ways have you benefited by focusing on “American-made”?

I have benefited from focusing on making an “American-made” product because consumers are starting to catch on more and more about the dangerous loss of the manufacturing base in this country. With the Turbo Flyer, consumers are contributing to a balsa wood company in Ware, MA, a screen-printing company in Ypsilanti, MI a paper die-cutting company in Dearborn, MI, and a wood die-cutting company in Livonia, MI. To a consumer, there is an added benefit to knowing where their money is going.


What message would you like to give American consumers?

I would like American consumers to question where their goods come from and to evaluate the real price of cheap goods made in other countries. When you can, do a little bit of research and be willing to pay a little more to buy American. That seemingly small act goes a long way.

Buy Filed in: #dayinthelife