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In this week’s Goulet Q&A, I talk about putting dip flex nibs in Jinhaos, how Snapchat is influencing the pen world, and what it’s like to build luxury pen brand relationships.

In the last week:

  • Lots of stomach bug hitting our team
  • good family time this weekend
  • Snapchat going strong, Insta going strong
  • Namiki and Filofax pushed out a bit
  • FedEx pushed out a bit
  • Been really aggressive on our timelines, stuff isn’t lining up perfectly so we’re having to adjust
  • Shooting a little early this week, Tuesday

New/Upcoming Products: – (2:44)

Pens/Writing – (7:22)

1) Apav5- YouTube – (7:24)
I’m kinda new to fountain pens and since I got my first pen I’ve written in cursive. I can write ok in cursive however I write super slow. Should I be embarrassed if I pull out a nice looking fountain pen for quick notes in class then start writing like a 3rd grader?

  • I’ve been there, don’t sweat it
  • Practice will help you a lot here, it likely won’t take you but a few weeks, a couple of months at most to see a noticeable difference in your writing speed and quality
  • other people really aren’t judging you about your writing like you think, anyway
  • even if they are, who cares. You write for you, writing is personal and if you enjoy it, enjoy it!

2) Hector L.- Blog – (10:16)
I’m curious if you have ever converted a Jinhao to a flex pen using a dip calligraphy nib before and if so what your experience was like? I just ordered an x450 and can’t wait to start experimenting!

  • experimenting is the key word here
  • this is a hack, and with a variety of dip nibs out there it’s hard to say what your experience will be like
  • I’ve seen a number of pen reviewers out there like Stephen Brown and others do this hack
  • you might have to bend/alter the nib to fit, experiment a lot with ink/paper that works with it
  • I give strong words of “do at your own risk” here, as you’re voiding warranties all over the place
  • have fun though!

3) Hector L. Blog – (16:24)
I’m a writer and write stores in the same vein as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I was just wondering what inks you would recommend to a “horror” writer?

4) Alex- Email – (18:13)
I love pens and would like a new fountain pen. I have been using a Pilot Petit and Lamy ABC but would like something fancier and was wondering what you would recommend. Here are the four things I am looking for in a fountain pen 1) can easily change nibs, 2) has the ability to use bottled ink, 3) fits well in my hand and 4) writes well as that is whole point of using a fountain pen :-)  I want to use it to practice my penmanship, write letters and record thoughts in my journal. Thank you, Alex, 8 years old PS.  I like the LEGO creations in your office.

  • I couldn’t help but answer an 8-yo pen and lego fan!
  • I would stick with Lamy here, a Safari, Al-Star, or maybe even a Logo
  • they will use the same nib as your ABC, look nice, lots of fun color options
  • the grips will be thinner, more like a pencil
  • the ABC comes with a nib that’s about equivalent to a medium nib, so go with EF if you want smaller or 1.1mm stub if you want bigger and fancier
  • Pilot’s Metropolitan is one of my favorites and you can swap the nibs between them, the Prera, Penmanship, and Plumix, but the nibs aren’t sold separately

Ink – (22:35)

5) Hank W.- Facebook – (22:36)
The Goulet Pen Co. “Glossary of Terms” page doesn’t define sheen. But there’s lots of types of sheen. Some sheen appears as complementary colours, others looks like it’s 120 degrees off on the colour wheel; some sheen is where the ink pools most, other sheen shows up at the edges of the letterforms; and the current fad of inks with “shimmer” or “flecks” or whatnot… on its own that’s not really sheen. Depending on who’s doing ink reviews, terminology can be all over the place. Was GP thinking of stepping in and adding to the glossary, or are the definitions of ink properties too… um, fluid? smile emoticon

  • I’ll be darned, you’re right, I’ll have to work that in there
  • sheen does have a lot of meaning for different people
  • I looked to provide my own view on sheen in my blog post “Brian’s Top 10 Sheening Inks”: it could be sparkles like glitter, or a shiny color that happens in the areas where ink really pools up
  • Until recently, it was usually talking about sheen as in a shiny variance in color where the ink pooled up. with 1670 and Shimmertastic inks coming out, many people now view bright, sparkly glittery flare as sheen
  • I view it as both, and as much as I like to think I’m an authority in the pen world, I suspect that others will continue to call it whatever they want, just like when you call an ink waterproof or wet/dry

6) Kanak K.- Facebook – (25:05)
Okay this question might be a little silly. How do you fill in a pen from your ink vials? Especially the Karas Kustoms and Pilot 74. As in every drop of it?

  • Karas Kustoms is pretty easy, just fill directly into the converter
  • Custom 74 is a little tougher, it’s really hard to get a full fill with that button filler
  • an ink syringe will become really key here, that or using a different converter

Business – (34:06)

7) Myr Gyl (Gayle)- Facebook – (34:07)
Now that you have snapchat, do you feel like you get a more intimate/personal look at your consumer base watching what stories you can of your snapchat friends? Just wondering. I think it’s totally cool for a retailer/owner of a company to be as accessible as you are. And I appreciate that you take the time to do it, since there are so many other things you can be doing with your time.

  • I’ve been active daily on Snapchat for just over a week now, I know, look at me
  • I have about 400 friends and recently broke a score of 1,000
  • I signed up for SC about a year ago, and just couldn’t wrap my head around it
  • I follow a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk and he’s been all over SC recently (getting about 30k views on his stories), I get just over 200
  • I’ve been reading his latest book #AskGaryVee and it just clicked with me, seeing the trend of Facebook, Instagram, and now Snapchat
  • I decided rather impulsively to read up on it a bit on Sunday, March 6th (for about an hour), then tweet out to the Goulet Nation to add me as a friend
  • As people friended me, I friended back and sent a personal message to each one of them, thanking them
  • As I used it, it took about 15 minutes for me to really ‘get it’, and I’ve been able to chat with fans all over the US, in Honduras, Norway, UK, Germany, and all over, instantly, personally, and easily
  • the stories feature is really cool, too, and does give me insight into what’s going on with folks
  • I can pop in on peoples’ stories, and snap at them with a response
  • I’ve always been into personal communication, almost to a fault
  • I walk the line of practicality in terms of trying to reply to everyone who takes the time to engage
  • SC allows me to do that in a way that is incredibly convenient
  • it’s overwhelmingly young people and newbies, who I so totally connect with and it keeps me grounded especially as we’re carrying higher and higher end pens. I need to stay grounded
  • Friend me on Snapchat as briangoulet

8) Kenneth C.- Facebook – (49:23)
After you finally worked things out with Visconti, I noticed that Montegrappa was soon to follow. Is the Visconti deal opening doors for you that were previously closed? Are other manufacturers showing signs of being more open to you as an online-only retailer? In other words, are you any closer to being able to sell Sailor???

  • Definitely, carrying one luxury brand starts to open the doors for others
  • this is no different than how it’s gone from the very beginning
  • there was a time when Lamy and Pilot didn’t want to sell to online only retailers, we had to advocate for them
  • we started with paper, and carried J. Herbin ink because it was brought into the US by the same distributor as Rhodia and Clairefontaine
  • We then picked up Pelikan b/c we carried J. Herbin, then Private Reserve, Diamine, and Noodler’s
  • Noodler’s distributor also carried Platinum, which led to Preppys and Noodler’s pens (in the early days) our first pens
  • once we started carrying pens we got into Lamy, Pilot, and others, and it’s been history in the making since
  • Luxury brands like Visconti, Montegrappa, Mont-Blanc, Omas (RIP) and others are typically sold in higher end B&M stores like jewelry and watch stores, not always pen stores
  • they’re a few years behind the other brands in terms of selling online, so we’re fighting some of the same battles there as we were with Lamy and Pilot years ago
  • they’re coming around though, slowly but surely
  • Omas was distributed by Kenro, who also sells Montegrappa, Aurora, and (formerly) Sheaffer
  • we could always sell Montegrappa, but we didn’t have the brand recognition for it
  • we started the luxury pen line with Omas, and that went well which allowed us to convince Visconti to try us out, now Montegrappa wants to dance, though they’ve always had that on the table
  • Namiki is also in the works
  • sometimes it has to do with distributor/manufacturer relationships, sometimes it’s just us being ready and able to launch a new brand, often times it’s just demand we feel from customers that determine when the time is right for us to get into a new brand

QOTW: What brand of pens do we not carry at Goulet that you would really love to see us bring on? – (01:06:33)

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

Write on, 
Brian Goulet