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, I talk about why I’m talking so much about expensive pens, how I balance my time with products and with people as my company grows, and some of the worst pens I’ve ever owned.

This week:
  • visited with family for Memorial weekend, lots of good family time
  • lots of personal stuff going on, can’t really share
  • lots of just business stuff going on, can’t elaborate but a lot of my time is spent on the business side of things right now

New/Upcoming Products – (3:58)

Pens/Writing – (7:28)
1) maxung11- Instagram – (7:31)
Should I buy lots of inexpensive pens (jinhao, metro, etc.) Or few expensive pens (m1000, homo sapiens etc.)
  • this is going to boil down to personal preference
  • look at other areas of your life and see what you acquire, that will reflect in your pen usage
  • do you have fewer but really nice shoes, clothes, furniture, etc? or do you have tons of cheap things? this will tell you what you value
  • I personally started out with all cheapies, and was very content
  • as time went on, my taste grew with my budget
  • there is absolutely a law of diminishing returns when it comes to pens, and I can very easily justify never spending over $50 on a fountain pen
  • there is definitely a different feeling when you get into the higher end pens, mainly from what goes into making them, the thought, care, and history of them
  • the vast majority of folks will never need or want to get into high end stuff, and that’s perfectly okay
  • if you appreciate finer things in general, you will likely appreciate finer pens
2) cigarnev- Instagram – (13:53)
How is the patina going on your Montegrappa Mule? What other pens do you have that “age” over time?
Ink – (18:30)
3) Chiew C.- Facebook – (18:31)
I have a bottle of Diamine Golden Sands that I tested in my cheapest pen, the Parker IM in medium and it looked pretty at the beginning. However, the amount of shiny particles decreased as I kept writing. Emptied the pen within 5 days and flushed it only to see a concentrated pool of particles in my sink. What is causing the particles to stay in the feed and not flow out with the ink?
  • I think you’ll see a concentrated pool of particles in your sink no matter what with shimmertastic inks
  • this happens with some pens more than others
  • it could be a flow issue
  • feed is not very open, particles aren’t moving through
  • could also be drying out which wouldn’t keep it flowing as smooth
  • absorbent paper draws the ink through quicker too, leaving particles more in the pen, won’t show up as much
  • do regular cleaning, use less absorbent paper, and lastly try using a different pen to see if it behaves differently
4) Kathy- Blog – (22:28)
I LOVE the color of the walls in your new office. What ink do you think is closest to your wall color! I’m buying it!
Business – (24:48)
5) Jamie M.- Facebook – (24:53) 
I feel like Goulet has been getting in a lot of $100+ new pens and not much in the more affordable range below that. We had the new safari, and I think a couple of others from brands that goulet already carried, but it just seems like so few especially next to the new brands you have been carrying (Visconti, Namiki) that are super high end. What gives? Is there a reason Goulet seems to be reaching for more and more expensive pens?
  • Great question, and you’re definitely not the only one asking about this
  • we haven’t always carried expensive pens, or even pens at all! We have VERY humble beginnings
  • for me, it’s craftsmanship. I started GouletPens as a craftsman so I appreciate the high end pens that have a lot of craftsmanship to them (like Visconti and Namiki)
  • We pursued Visconti for 4 years before retailing them last fall
  • We’ve carried Pilot over 5 years and only 6 months ago were invited to represent Namiki maki-e (besides the VP)
  • these have been aspirational brands for us, so we’ve put a lot into launching them, and we don’t have other high-end brands like these lined up right now
  • there won’t be quite as much about them ongoing, it’s just a lot at once
  • there are a lot of other really expensive pens we DON’T carry (but could)
  • believe it or not, we’re being pretty selective
  • we carry most of the major brands with lower-priced models
  • there are definitely some we don’t have, and some to those are because of non-obvious logistical reasons or quality issues we see (which is common in cheaper pens
  • We definitely still love all walk of pens, and it has been very high-end heavy lately, I admit
  • We’re still LOVING our Lamy’s, the Pilot Kakuno that’ll be coming out later this year, pens like the Conklin Lapis Blue, Delta Unica, and others in the sub-$100
6) @5goofy24- Twitter – (33:43)
How does bringing maki-e into your inventory change/enhance ur business model? It seems like an interesting venture!
  • I thought this would be a nice follow up to the previous question!
  • it definitely is interesting, and it’s pushing us to know these pens really well
  • there’s a lot more craftsmanship and artistry going into these than just about any other pen
  • it launches us straight into “collector” territory, which is new for us
  • typically people buying these pens are buying them as art and not for the writing aspect of the pen
  • this is different for our customers, and I think a fantastic shift and something I’m excited to bring to Namiki (people that write with the pens!)
  • Realistically, it’s not going to make or break my sales, because these pens are just such a narrow niche
  • for me it’s more about showing the caliber of retailer that we are, that we can represent these pens well, especially in an online format (which has been a struggle for Namiki thus far)
  • It’s a challenge for me, and a chance to showcase beautiful art, if nothing else

7) 77_ocie- Instagram – (40:43)
Now that GP has numerous employees and is busier than ever, talk about finding the balance of being the manager of people AND the challenge of staying on top of the products you sell. Do find thst you have to compromise one for the other?
  • You don’t know the half of it! :) I have a family to balance out, too! And my health…
  • I’ll keep within the context though…this is a constant, never-ceasing struggle for me
  • it’s always a compromise, if I’m working on my business I’m not studying pens, and likewise
  • What I’m having to do now more than ever:
  • 1) Is this something worth doing at all (and be ruthless about this)?
  • 2) Is this something only I can do? Yes? Do it. No? Delegate it.
  • 3) Focus on my team, they are what matters most in terms of making things work at Goulet
  • the products absolutely matter, but if I’m an expert but my team doesn’t know anything about the pens, they can’t help anyone!
  • So it has to go hand-in-hand, I have to learn and train at the same time
  • In general though, I spend more time on my people, because ultimately people are more complex, unique, and valuable than products
  • Years ago I decided to dedicate myself to leadership as my mastery (Outliers, 10,000 hours)
  • If I’d devoted myself to pens, I’d be a nibmeister and likely just work out of my house
  • “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” -David Allen (on my door)
Personal – (54:00)
8) nataliaachatzz- Instagram – (54:03)
What is one of the worst pens you’ve ever had?
  • I’ve never carried any pens I’ve been truly ashamed of
  • Taccia Doric
  • Online pens
  • Platignum Studio

QOTW: What’s the worst pen you’ve ever had? – (59:33)

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