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 compare copper pens, talk about what inks look great in a demonstrator pen, and talk about the craziest products people send me to consider selling.

This week:
  • Did live Q&A last week, had fun, learned stuff

New/Upcoming Products: – (3:59)

  • Robert Oster inks
  • New Products will be coming, we’ve been taking a little breather
  • InCoWriMo will be starting up in two weeks, make sure you’re ready
Pens/Writing – (6:49)

1) ryan.wolff2420- Instagram – (6:52)
What is the best pen to use with Liberty Elysium?

2) Aaron S.- Facebook – (9:51)

I want to buy a copper pen, but need help picking between the Karas Kustoms Ink, Tactile Turn Gist, and the Montegrappa Copper Mule. Which one would you pick if you could only choose one??
  • ooo, this is a toughie! Great comparison
  • Karas Kustoms Ink, $200
    • Pros: big, heavy, solid, minimal disruption to the body, so patina will show really nicely
    • Cons: big, heavy, solid! Not really a long-form writer, clip is really tight
    • Personally, I like the copper Fountain K better
  • Tactile Turn Gist, $139
    • Pros: more compact, good pocket pen, not slippery at all, most affordable of the group
    • Cons: not as easy to polish b/c of the lines, not quite as shiny as the others
  • Montegrappa Copper Mule, $375
    • Pros: most elegant design of the bunch, has a nice two-tone look that I really love, very smooth capping action b/c it’s not metal-on-metal threads, polishes up real nice
    • Cons: most expensive, centerband is pretty prominent and breaks up the copper on the body
  • Honestly, they’re all great copper pens and I can easily recommend any of them to you if you have the means

3) Katie.wk- Instagram – (20:15)

I’ve already got a Lamy Safari and a pilot metropolitan, and my ink collection is an okay size. I’m looking into buying a TWSBI pen next, but I’m a little confused as to how different the Eco and diamond 580 actually are. Should I stick with the less expensive Eco and get a nicer bottle of ink with it, or is buying the more costly 580 (and sticking with the ink I’ve got) worth the extra money?
  • in terms of actual functionality, the Eco and 580 are not vastly different
  • the biggest difference in the 580 has swappable nib units, the Eco does not
  • both are piston
  • both can be fully disassembled and come with tools to do so
  • both hold a lot of ink
  • both cap well
  • aesthetics probably influence your decision more than anything
  • if you’re looking to maximize your utility, then get the Eco and the bottle of ink, that’s what the Eco is made for

4) Mary P.- Facebook – (25:47)

I really like the Charlie pen that came with my Noodler’s Heart of Darkness 4.5 oz bottle. Why doesn’t Noodler’s sell these little pens separately? Also, how does Nathan decide which inks he offers in the 4.5 oz bottles?
  • It’s a “free” pen, and Nathan has never had interest in offering his free pens for sale
  • it’s in there to sell his ink
  • the reason he includes it in some and not others is mainly because he absorbs the price of that pen in with the ink, and depending on the cost of dye components he can’t absorb it for some of the ink colors
  • it’s really about utility, and there’s a slight bit of Willy Wonka stuff going on in terms of how Nathan decides exactly what he’ll do, that’s part of the magic of his brand

Ink – (31:19)

5) perrybeachy- Instagram – (31:23)

I’ve noticed some inks really stick to the sides of my demonstrator pens. Do you have a top 7 list of cool inks that display nicely in a demonstrator pen?

6) Marcos G.- Facebook – (36:37)

What type of fountain pen ink would you recommend using in a vintage fountain pen? The pen in question is a Sheaffer
  • Sheaffer ink is definitely a contender!
  • without knowing any details of your specific pen, I’d err on the safe side
  • boutique ink companies will have more saturated dyes and perhaps unique properties of the ink (Noodler’s, Diamine, De Atramentis, etc)
  • If you stick with inks made by pen companies, it’s generally a safer bet for vintage pens
  • Waterman, Sheaffer, Pelikan, Pilot Iroshizuku, etc
  • Of course, plenty of people use whatever the heck ink they want in their vintage pens, so you made just want to search FPN or post about it to see what others with the pen recommend

Business – (39:07)

7) Ken C.- Facebook – (39:09)

Have you ever been approached by people/companies who want you to sell their products, where you looked at them and said to yourself “Oh my god, I can’t sell that!”? Whether they be hand-turned kit pens or some other thing that’s not commercially viable (or even just plain horrible). If so, how do you go about responding? Do you honestly explain why you can’t sell them? Do you feed them a generic “not accepting new products at this time” response? Or do you tell them to go away because their product sucks? I would LOVE to hear stories about crazy things you’ve been approached with.
  • I’ve definitely been pitched some stuff, yes
  • most of the time, it’s somewhat related (not Shark Tank type craziness)
  • it’s actually pretty manageable, usually Etsy-type products, more on the crafty side and not really someone ready to go full-scale production
  • I’ve been sent handmade pen sleeves/rolls, leather goods, hand-sticked notebooks and notebook covers
  • most of the time, it’s not because it’s such a crazy idea or bad product, it’s that the person behind it just isn’t quite tuned in to our customer based or has no real capacity for increased production
  • I’m always honest, and try to give feedback where I feel it’s constructive
  • most of the time, it’s just “I don’t think my customers would respond to this” with some detail as to why
  • If it’s a good concept but they aren’t ready to wholesale, I’ll get into that a little bit (that really depends on whether they even kind of grasp all that at that stage)
  • I always try to set expectations, like “you can send it to me, but I may not get back to you for a month or two after I’ve made some time to test it out”, or “I’m interested but now is just not the time for me to be considering this, can we touch base in 6 months?”
  • these kinds of instances have the odds stacked against them, because where we’ve ALWAYS done best is when demand is stemming up through the community and we are hearing about a new product before we’re in contact with the manufacturer
  • I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone their product “sucks”, because I feel like that’s really subjective and isn’t very constructive for them
  • I know how hard it is to get a business/brand/product off the ground, and I’ll always give some kind of input back if they’ve gone through the effort to get it in front of me
  • emailing first always helps, I can shut it down right there if it’s just a hair-brained idea

8) CY.- Facebook – (51:58)

What are some products on your site that are commonly wishlisted (is that a word?), but do not sell as well as one would hope, given the wishlisting?
  • the wishlist is really more of a tool for you than for us, we don’t “big brother” that feature, I don’t see how that’d be particularly meaningful
  • what we do pay a lot more attention to is the email notification list for each product that’s out-of-stock
  • this helps us estimate for product launches or restocking important things
  • this can definitely surprise us at times
  • the longer something is out of stock, the less reliable it is (when something’s delayed for months)
  • the more expensive the pen, the less reliable this is
  • Limited Editions are a complete roll of the dice (Lamy 2000 Black Ambers, for example)
  • paper is always a total crapshoot, especially planners
  • As anyone in retail knows, it’s impossible to predict exactly what will sell well, but the email notification definitely helps us make sure we minimize running out at launch!
QOTW: What is your favorite ink to use in a demonstrator pen? – (58:13)
Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet