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 whether you should or shouldn’t use a brown paper bag to smooth your nibs, writing with your nib flipped over will ruin it, and what I’d do differently if I could start my business over!

This week:

New/Upcoming Products – (3:17)
Pens/Writing – (8:33)
1) sammiethesammer- Instagram – (8:39)
I see people use fountain pens and even dip pens for drawing and art pieces. What are the best pens/ nibs to use for these applications? Are there specific nibs that work better for different types of art work?
  • pens are tools, and different artists prefer different tools!
  • I’ve seen artists use dang near every pen, though obviously lower-priced pens are more typical
  • Lamy Joy is popular (swappable nibs, good balance)
  • Noodler’s pens (flex, variation in line width)
  • Platinum Desk Pen (very fine nib, good balance)
  • Waterbrush pens (for ink washing)
  • Pilot Metropolitans (thin fine nib)
Ink – (13:22)
2) transmanaaron- Instagram – (13:23)
Can you recommend a sheening ink as brilliant green/turquoise as Emerald of Chivor but without the gold sparkle? I’d love a more everyday version of this color.
Troubleshooting – (14:29)
3) eraye9- Instagram – (14:32)
Where do you weigh in on the brown paper bag trick to remedy a scratchy nib? Some say yes always, others say no never.
  • I fall in the middle
  • it’s definitely not an always thing
  • the bag acts as an abrasive
  • anytime you’re using an abrasive, you’re changing the factory finish on that nib
  • brown bag is pretty darn tame though
  • i personally have no problem with it…perhaps I’m ignorant of some long-term effect of doing it regularly or something, but I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem ruining their nib because of brown bags
  • the worst you may experience is fibers getting in the slit, which you can clean out
  • smoothing is faster and easier with micro mesh and mylar

4) disamistade- Instagram – (20:44)

Does reverse writing ruin the nib of a fountain pen? (I’m not sure if reverse writing is the correct term when one writes on the “wrong” side of a pen.)
  • it can, if you’re writing with heavy pressure
  • there’s a lot less give on the nib, and the feed back against it restricts its movement under pressure
  • otherwise, it’s not too harmful though
  • not all pen manufacturers tune them on the flip side so be aware you may get one that doesn’t write smoothly
  • it’s a personal choice, I do it at times, but I wouldn’t want to for all my writing

Business – (26:25)

5) Leilani K.- Facebook – (26:47)
While FPs are already a great idea for those of us trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle, are there any particular products or companies that are more “green”? Conscientious material sourcing, minimal waste or packaging, charity linked, etc.?

6) Ted S.- Facebook – (32:52)

I have been wondering if, when different users visit your website, are we being presented with different deals or prices anywhere on your pages? For example, do different users all see the same specials prices and items? Can we all see them at the same time? Or are items and prices being filtered for different people at different times? Thanks.

  • this is called differential pricing, and is used by a lot of companies online, mainly larger ones
  • airlines, insurance, and e-commerce all use it, albeit quietly because it’s a sticky issue
  • it’s my understanding the intention from a business standpoint is to want to incentivize people that they can predict are not likely to buy, using discounts
  • these systems get pretty sophisticated, and many times 3rd party firms that develop algorithms to track this get bought up by companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc
  • it’s differentiated by geography, visit frequency, browsing patterns, device type and other demographics
  • we do not use differential pricing, what you see is what others are seeing
  • one exception is with certain brands we’re not allowed to advertise below a certain price, so you have to be logged into your GouletPens account to see our “best price”, but anyone buying it would be paying the same price
  • with coupons and discounts, we can incentivize certain purchases, and that’s been going on since the dawn of commerce
  • serving up different prices to different people is something that’s a touchy subject, but is a fact of life in e-commerce, no doubt you’re shopping somewhere that it’s being used
  • one thing we have started doing is paid ads, which we haven’t done much before
  • I used to be prideful about never doing paid ads, I’ve changed my tune on that recently
  • we have a 3rd party (Criteo) that will serve up ads to you for things you’ve browsed on our site, since you’ve expressed interest in them
  • it’s all anonymized data, nothing personal, and it’s not being sold
  • it’s just serving up displays for you in areas where there would normally be other (less relevant) ads there, you’re probably just noticing them a lot because it’s stuff you like/care about!
  • you can opt out, there’s a blue x in the corner you can click, it’s “learning” right now and will go away if you never click on it
  • we want to be really intentional about any marketing we do, we want it to be invited and welcomed, and we’re taking a pretty conservative approach to it (you can even opt out)
7) Corinne L.- Facebook – (43:55)
If you knew back when you first started with the business what you know now, what would you do differently?
  • i won’t give a cop-out answer
  • I spent several years searching in my business to find fountain pens in the first place, I’d have just gone right for it
  • i would have defined my “why”, company values and whatnot sooner
  • I would have just thought bigger than what I initially did, especially in regards to space and people

QOTW: What’s the most interesting conversation you’ve ever had with a stranger that was prompted by a fountain pen? – (52:46)

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