Goulet Q&A Episode 176, Brian and Rachel Talk Business

Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

In this episode, Rachel and I talk business!
  • this is a special “evergreen” episode
  • recorded in advance, differently than our normal weekly Q&A
  • Rachel joins me and we’ve combed through previous Q&A questions to pull out ones that’d be great for both of us to answer

Business: – (1:21)

1) csfphotoedits – Instagram – (1:22)
After having built such a formidable online presence over the past few years, and becoming a pillar in the fountain pen community, has The Goulet Pen Company considered venturing a bit further and begin attending Pen Shows throughout the Country? What has kept the company from attending previous years?
  • the 2009 DC pen show was impactful for Brian
  • we attended as vendors in 2010, it was just not our thing
  • our focus has been ONLINE, it’s in our mission statement
  • “To provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in”
  • what we do really love is meeting people face-to-face and talking to them, playing pens
  • we attend DC every year as guests
  • we attended Atlanta last year as guests
  • we have definitely talked about doing more (as guests)
  • travel has been tough with young kids, health issues in our family

2) jeanmarior – Instagram – (9:20)

Do you ever plan on opening a physical store as in having a local?
  • nope! Online is our thing, absolutely no plans in the future for B&M
  • there would be some huge perks to having a physical store, but that’s definitely not the way the industry’s going
  • we don’t live in an area where a physical store would make a ton of sense
  • B&M stores diversify and carry a lot of non-fountain pen products too, and we want to stay focused

3) Sylvia Catalano – YouTube – (12:42)

What are Rachel Goulet’s favorite pens?
4) jcoletrain84 – Instagram – (19:15)
Which pens do you love so much that you own multiple of the same model?

5) the_film_darkroom – Instagram – (26:15)

Being a online retailer, having a second site in the U.S. doesn’t seem to make so much sense, but would you go through the issues of international trade, doubling stock etc to have an overseas one for quicker shipping etc for that region i.e. in the U.K. or Europe?
  • we’re trying to wrap out hands around just one business in the US!
  • going overseas would be literally running an entire new business, in a country we know little about
  • new taxes, regulations, culture, everything
  • likely, we wouldn’t be able to charge much less than we do right now shipping directly to these countries b/c of all the additional overhead
  • the upside to us is not enough to overcome the hurdles

6) jacobmm99 – Instagram – (32:07)
When you retire, would you ever think about bringing back some early-Goulet-Pen-Co. pen making skills and craft them as a hobby?
  • who’s talking retirement? We’re in our early 30’s!
  • Brian can’t see himself really ever “retiring”
  • Brian definitely has a passion for woodworking and has dreamed of doing that more in some capacity, but the temptation to just kick it all up again into a whole other full time business means it wouldn’t ever make sense to do it as a retirement gig
  • it wouldn’t be a total shock to do something like this, but it’s just not likely to be in the cards in any reasonable timeframe
QOTW: What Brian and Rachel combo questions do you have for us for when we do this again? – (37:53)

Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian and Rachel Goulet
2017-10-12T15:39:12+00:00 July 7th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|26 Comments
  • Shaavazul

    Thanks for another great Q&A!
    Also, thank you for approaching your customers/viewers in an honest, human way. You’re all about pens, but the videos feel like a conversation with a good friend, complete with tangents about being an introvert, puns, and sometimes very personal aspects of life. It’s silly/quirky to think people I’ve never met (and probably never will šŸ˜ž) have become such a constant and meaningful part of my life. Take care guys and know that I will continue to support you because you add little sparks of joy into the everyday. Even if you don’t always carry a pen I want in a broad nib! šŸ˜†

    (I am also really excited about the giveaway (thanks again!) and I *really* want to win. But who doesn’t?!)

    • Kathy

      You said this so well. I feel like Brian and Rachel are my great next door neighbors after watching all of the 1,000+ videos! I enjoy them so much, and they add such sparks of joy into my life. Where else can I engage with others about my FP passion (aka addiction)? Through this website I’ve made new friends, attended pen club meetings I otherwise would have known nothing about, and learned so much!

  • busterholl

    Totally agree about the TWSBI Diamond AL and the Loom, great pens at a wonderfully affordable price.
    Also love the Platinum 3776 which I last filled in January and is still writing flawlessly.

  • Tom Johnson

    This is a super Q&A! Love seeing Rachel share the “hot seat” with Brian! She is so poised and relaxed on screen, I find it hard to believe that she isn’t as comfortable doing videos as Brian. Shaavazul spoke for many of us below about how you guys have come into our lives and are enriching them so much.

    I agree about the smoothness of broad nibs, but my writing ranges from very small (where I use the EF and F nibs) to larger, more bold writing, where 1.5mm stub nibs are a favorite. As to a question for both of you on a future Q&A together – of all the Edison Nouveau Premiere pens, which one (or two) are Rachel’s favorite? Which are Brian’s favorite? I love that the Nouveau Premiere is an exclusive collaboration between Brian & Andrea Gray and you guys, that makes these pens so special.

    My experience with the Platinum 3776 Century is the same as busterholl’s – when ever I pull it out of its pen case, it is immediately wet and perfect writing. Already looking forward to your next joint Q&A.

  • peter hofmann

    You guys should do this more often, Rachel is really good on camera!
    Here is my suggestion for the next one “What goes into choosing the Edison Nouveau Premier pens” (i.e. how does one choose between what will be carried versus the 2nd place one?

    I do love the customer service, and do not purchase more, as at times the exchange rate is not that favorable, but at times I just cannot resist:-)

  • Kathy

    How wonderful to see Rachel! I love the Goulet Mafia tshirt. Any chance of those becoming available to your mafia? Question for Rachel….what’s the hardest thing about working with Brian?

    • MP

      Love that question, Kathy!

  • Lesley Schultz

    Hmm..Questions for the power couple. What paper is your (Brian and Rachel) current favorite? IAnd What paper seems to sell most on the site? I would love to win the Thursday giveaway if only so I can try all those papers.

  • Goulets, stick with what you do well! I’d love to see you visit a show and love to meet you guys face to face but you are doing things right — I occasionally visit those sites that sell and do shows (as vendors) and most sites are not really good. The online info is not well-thought out, making their site hard to buy from, hard to find things, images are not as good, info is not as good. For me to drop many dollars I have to either know the product, or trust the people describing the product to do a god job, images and info. Several sites have lost sales because they don’t tell me what I need to know and there are many great pens vying for my addictive attention. They have sales, attract us to the site, then… no sale. But tell us if you are coming to our teeny Portland Oregon show and I’d love to meet you!

    • Tom Johnson

      You are exactly right, I’ve bought from and visited the web sites of some of these sellers, but I never buy from them anymore! For the reasons you describe. Tiny pathetic photos, no significant information on the pens or other products carried, no reviews (dealer or customer). A waste of time to visit, a high risk of disappointment if you buy. I got burned once before I discovered Goulet Pens.

  • Curious_in_Cali

    You both are adorable together. It is so clear that you are more than busy professionals trying to run a successful business; you are caring employers, dedicated parents, active parishioners, and a loving couple. In other words, you can relate to your customers because you have the same or similar challenges and emotional goings on as everyone else. It is not easy to pull off even just one of these roles successfully – and you both seem to be thriving. I believe your dedication to sound business practices (like being debt free), caring about your employees, and staying true to your mission have helped contribute to the GPC success.
    My question for you is: I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to work together with my spouse – especially when one of you must act in a leadership capacity. I am certain the balance between the professional and the private relationship creates its own set of challenges. How do you manage this? How do your employees sort through these issues? How do you handle work disagreements and still maintain a united front for your staff?

  • Karl

    Informative Q&A with Rachel

    Very good team approach to the questions with Rachel. Try this every couple of months, maybe, when Rachel feels comfortable with the spotlight. I enjoy getting varied perspectives, so Brian might also try some additional periodic guest co-hosts, too, maybe even a customer who is a serious client with some history of pens. I enjoyed Rachel sharing the contents of her pen collection, explaining why she liked certain models, and multiples of the same models. I guess I will have to look closer at the Vanishing Point (a bit steep, but I see the practicality of it). Your decision to stay online only and Ashland-only makes perfect sense when you explain the many factors involved in running a brick-and-mortar store and/or an overseas warehouse. You have a great business model and a solid division of labor with Rachel behind the scenes and Brian up front.

  • William Morris

    Great answer re: opening abroad. You’ve nailed most of the problems in your answer; buying from the US is cheaper than it would be if you had a base here. Yes, I wait a bit longer – not much – but, hey, we’re fountain pen users, and less part of the NOW! culture.

  • David L.

    Excellent Q&A as always. It’s nice to see Rachel helping out in the Q&As. Maybe you could do this more often? QOTW: How is Rachel so good at the color selections for the Premieres?

    Question 2: What a pity. I’ll be going to brick and mortar stores untill I die. I’ve had some negative experiences with online purchases ( i.e. the product comes damaged or doesn’t come at all). Nothing against the GPC, it’s just that that is where my preference resides. I took a gamble with my first order from the Goulet Pen Company, and I am glad I did. I trust you more than any other retailor.

    • Kathy

      I applaud Brian and Rachel for developing a business plan and sticking to it. I cannot count the number of business failures I’ve seen (as a retired banker/lawyer) because people went off on tangents. I do love B&M stores as well, and visit the mom and pop stores whenever I can. Sometimes I have great experiences, and end up dropping 4 figures on pens. Other times (particularly at chains) I run into sales people who know nothing about the products. GPC is at the top of my list for any pen/ink/paper, however.

      • David L.

        Kathy, I have nothing against the GPC for doing only online. I will probably go to a brick and mortar store to try out a pen over $50 that I am interested in, as there are two conveniently located in two of my neighboring states. There’s even one in my home state that sells vintage pens and nibs, some of which are new old stock! If I still want the pen that I looked into, then I will be making a purchase from the GPC shortly. I greatly respect Brian and Rachel for making a plan and sticking to it.

  • Mark Ballinger

    Iā€™m a newbie to the Goulet Pen Co but have been addicted to all your blogs and videos over recent weeks – the wealth of knowledge and obvious enjoyment and enthusiasm is infectious. This Q&A with your favourite pens was great, but I wondered, with so many pens in both your collections, how do you decide which pen you want to write with at any particular time?

  • Debrs

    Question from Debra B. I have several, now empty, sample ink vials. My stash has grown incrementally during ‘Inksamplepaloosa’. Do you have any recommendations for reusing, recycling, repurposing the 40+ empty vials – other than simply tossing them?

    • Tom Johnson

      I like to keep vials of the inks I use, just to refill pens from them. Easy to use with ink syringes (I refill cartridges with bottled inks of my choice). I also use them to hold pills for my dogs. I put some cut-off cotton swabs that are used with silicone grease in one. Clean swabs can be stored in another one. Great for traveling or at work – you can keep the ink bottle at home.

      Be sure to label them. In fact, I’ve bought the packages of sample vials from Goulet several times. I also use them to store my spare nibs in them (Goulet nibs, Lamy nibs, Edison nibs, etc.). Also small things like O-rings. And, I recommend the Goulet Ink Sample Vial Holder for storing the vials.

      • Debrs

        Great suggestions. Very much appreciated – especially just using to fill from bottles for each transport.

  • Bran Aldridge

    Yeah for the broads!

  • Joe

    I’m on Team Rachel, I love broad point FPs. They make such great lines..

  • MP

    Finally had a chance to watch this. Rachel is awesome! Love this Q&A.

    My question: Do you guys ever think about bringing your kids into the business eventually? Is it one of your hopes?

  • Robert Morrison

    A question: Considering Brian’s history with pen making, have you ever considered bringing out your own Goulet line of fountain pens and, if so, what features would they have?

  • Memory

    I’m totally with you on the vanishing point! I used to be a scientific researcher and enjoyed writing with fountain pens, but was often writing one handed and needed waterproof ink because there’s always liquids dropping everywhere on your lab notebook. Vanishing point with Noodler’s ink was a *complete* game changer for me.

    Now that i’m on the writing side, I’m finally able to experiment with more pens, different nibs, and inks that don’t have to be water proof. My first vanishing point was the special edition bright purple……which has been lost in the move and I mourn almost daily. Love the twilight and wish I could purchase another one (I just picked up the purple twilight).

  • Memory

    While I’m talking about Vanishing Points, Amazon posted an add about a Pilot “capless special alloy nib.” Apparently the nib is different than the regular Vanishing Points and takes a traditional Pilot CON-50. It’s half the price (so of course it’s tempting), but I’m trying to figure out if it’s a cheap knockoff and whether it has any of the features I love about Vanshing Points. For example, they don’t show the tip retracted up close, and the advert mentions “continuous writing” to keep it working. Of course, the lack of hard starts is another reason I love my Vanishing Points. I’d love both of your thoughts! And thanks for all the videos, the tutotrials, the information. As a scientist, I love it.