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.
Thanks for stopping by to watch Goulet Q&A Episode 83! I’m talking about our new Cross products as well as the exciting nib offerings for the Pilot Vanishing Point. I’m covering my view on our business growth, how we choose the inks for Ink Drop, and what country makes the best fountain pens. Stay tuned for an exciting new installment of Goulet Q&A!
New/Upcoming Products – (1:34)
- Cross Classic Century
- Pilot Vanishing Point Stub Nib
- Cross Ink and Converters
Pens/Writing – (2:51)
I watched your video on how to travel on an airplane safely. But as a pilot I am curious to learn your recommendation if I try to use the pen for our paper work on it?
- in general, when flying if you keep your nib pointed up, it’ll eliminate just about all problems
- from talking to other pilots, the time you really want to avoid writing with a pen on a plane is from takeoff to about 6,000ft altitude
- once the cabin pressure is stabilized after takeoff, you’re pretty much safe
- descent is perfectly fine, go nuts
- consider a TWSBI Vac 700 or Pilot (pun!) Custom 823, they are vac fillers and close off the ink chamber
- this is just nib creep, and is purely aesthetic
- if it’s coming up with wiping, it’s just a sign that your pen loves you
- it’s perfectly okay to stay there!
- some people are weirded out by nib creep, I actually like it because it tells me when a pen is inked up, and what color (approximately) it is!
When a pen comes with a warranty whether is it 1 year or up to a lifetime warranty, is it ever worth violating that warranty to take the pen apart to do some extra cleaning or whatever? TWSBI encourages tinkering and with a Jinhao or similar brands that is not a concern. I have seen various videos on how to take apart the upper priced pens and they all come with a warning about warranties being voided if you try this at home. What is your opinion on this?
- any warranty is only as good as whoever’s standing behind it
- it’ll vary from one manufacturer to another
- most companies have some kind of warranty, though it usually varies and often costs at least shipping to get there/back
- given the shipping cost and wait time, it’s often a judgement call when it’s worth your time and effort to do a warranty return to a manufacturer
I am interested in the hobonichi which uses tomoe river paper I was wondering what are the advantages and disadvantages of using tomoe river paper?
- I haven’t used hobonichi before, personally
- Tomoe River is really thin, and handles ink exceptionally well, especially with feathering and bleeding
- get crazy sheens from your sheening inks
- disadvantage, limited formats available
- very thin, so more ghosting/see-through on the back of the page
- many inks/nibs you can’t use the other side easily
Ink – (23:00)
What dark blue inks with sheen do you suggest for use on average paper? (hilroy paper in canada….one that goes in the binders)
Based strictly on color, I feel that there aren’t too many inks that I find must buys because I have that particular color or another brand of ink that is very close. There are some inks that will stay in my collection for as long as they are made but I haven’t seen anything lately, in any price range, that is different enough for me to try. Do you think there is room for any more distinctive colors in fountain pen inks?
- 600ish colors definitely covers pretty much the full gamut
- what you start to get into is ink colors distinguishing from each other beyond just color shade, but more into properties
- dry time, flow, shading, permanence/waterproofness, sheen, feathering, bleeding, etc
- J. Herbin Stormy Grey is a good example…it’s a grey ink, there are plenty of those, but with a gold sheen in it, it becomes very unique and incredibly popular
- so yes, I really do think there is room for more, if companies look to push the envelope a bit
- that’s literally the difference between these two inks
- the “eel” lubricant is for piston pens to help self-lubricate, the wetter flow in a pen is a byproduct of that
- there are pros and cons of added lubricants, pros are wetter flow and self-lubrication for pen parts
- cons are longer dry time and more nib creep, more propensity for feathering and bleeding
- Noodler’s Black is pretty wet as it is, so most don’t see the need to go to a lubricated version
- technically, sure, pH is something that would be good to be aware of
- pH in the extremes on either end isn’t ideal
- some brands tout pH neutrality like Noodler’s (conventional line), but most don’t say boo about it
- given the lack of info available from manufacturers it makes it really tough to have it be a major factor in your ink buying
Business – (37:53)
How do you choose the inks for the ink drop? Why are there often German inks in the drop?
- we’re on our 58th drop right now, averaging 5 samples per drop that’s over 290 inks we’ve used so far, with remarkably few repeats
- we decided a few months ago to strategically repeat colors, after pulling some info about membership and the likelihood of people actually receiving repeats
- we settled on using no repeats within two years
- to select, it’s a group effort that starts with the theme and we pick a number of inks to fit it with many backups
- we’ll often go off of the color range of a theme, try to work in the ink names if there’s anything interesting
- inventory (getting enough ink) is always an issue, so we have to plan months in advance to make sure we’re going to have enough
- once we actually physically have it in our possession, we lock in the colors, design and get the cards printed up, and start sampling! We usually only sample in the month leading up to a drop
- German inks usually end up there because we carry a lot of German inks!
- De Atramentis, Rohrer and Klingner, Lamy, Pelikan, Super5, Faber-Castell, Kaweco…145 inks in all, about 1/4 of all the ink we carry comes from Germany!
- plus De Atramentis has fantastic names for theming
How much would you like to grow Goulet? Is there a size for your business that you see as ideal? Where do you see the tipping point at which the size of Goulet makes the personal, hands-on style that you have build impractical?
- our initial dream was for Rachel and I to both draw a paycheck, “employees” were not on our radar in the first year
- eventually, we realized it was inevitable and embraced it
- we’ve been kind of led by the growth of our business for the first 3-4 years, then started getting more intentional
- growth has never been our focus, except to meet the level of service that we feel we’ve needed to offer
- we don’t have a specific size in mind, as in number of team members or customers or revenue
- for us, it’s more about keeping the personal feel, our purpose statement is “To prove that business can be personal”
- our hands-on style was impractical around 7 people, we moved our business out of our house, had a toddler and newborn, lots of product knowledge we had to pass on to people who were newly hired and knew nothing about pens
- so many things about what we do are impractical, there’s a reason why you don’t see others doing what we do, it’s not that it’s anything magical we’ve figured out, it’s just hard!
Personal – (1:04:28)
Which country in your opinion makes the best fountain pens presently. United States, Germany, Japan, China, and India just to name a few that come to mind for me.
- “best” is subjective
- the US really isn’t making many fountain pens these days, aside from a couple of small household operations (though their quality is good)
- it’d be a toss-up between Germany and Japan for me, the pens coming from these countries are really different, and wonderful in their own right
- ah yes! did survey a few Q&A’s back on how to publish slices (feedback was pretty split)
- snuck in a cake vs. pie question in there, mainly because the Goulet team has gone way pie-heavy lately
- I’m proud to say it was 55% cake, 45% pie! Cake rules!! We should all celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than with cake.
I read in a Canadian press article that Robert Goulet is a member of Brian’s family. Has Brian ever been in contact with the actor and singer?
- He is indeed my 7th cousin once removed
- I emailed him when I was 12 telling him of our somewhat distant relation, and heard back weeks later when he mailed me a personalized autographed headshot
- what a classy guy!
Troubleshooting – (1:16:57)
Why do eyedroppers have a tendency to blurp out ink from time to time but piston fillers don’t?
- it all has to do with pressure, the higher the pressure in the pen the more burping you’ll see
- increased pressure comes from heat buildup (often from your hand while you’re writing)
- eyedropper pens almost always have higher ink capacities, and when the ink level gets below half, you might see burping start
- where the pen rests in the crook of your hand (where the most heat comes from) is right on the air pocket in an eyedropper fill, but is behind the piston seal in a piston pen
- that’s my theory!
Do you have any cool memorabilia signed by someone famous? What is it and how did you come by it? – (1:23:05)
Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A’s that you missed.