In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Visconti fails, crusty inks, and he shows you his personal journal collection!

This week:

  • 80k subscribers on YouTube! Thank you!!!
  • Changed our blog platform!
  • Monteverde Monza‘s are in now, rolling back opinion on eyedropper converting them
  • Free Irozhizuku w/ any Pilot Custom 74 or Stargazer
  • TWSBI Mini AL Gold…may already be gone
  • Namiki Emperor Toryumon…let’s see what a $9600 pen looks like!
  • Lamy Aion and new Studios….still waiting, will be several more weeks I’m told
  • We’ll be introducing a new giveaway next week leading up to Fountain Pen Day (Friday Nov 3), it will be like nothing we’ve done before!
  • Also, Thanksgiveaway is coming around the corner…
  • Peilkan m605 White-Transparent should be coming in very soon
  • November is looking to stack up to be a month with a lot of new stuff coming, it will be very exciting!
  • Sign up for our email newsletter, $5 off your next order (over $50) when you sign up right now


1) Priwolfe- Instagram (18:33)
For myself as for many others the Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age is a grail pen. However, I’m disheartened to hear folks like Matt @penhabit have sworn off the brand for numerous q.c. issues regarding their nibs. As a retailer and representative of the Visconti brand what measures do you put into place to address these concerns? What pressures do you feel as a dealer of the brand? Given the steep price tag that comes with it is the H.S. still a good or safe purchase? Im not sure how much to value the rather negative publicity Visconti has received lately. While I love the aesthetics of their pens, but the one thing a pen must do is write.

  • firstly, I have huge respect for Matt and want to make sure everyone understands I think he’s honest and completely entitled to feel the way he does based on his own experiences
  • Visconti and other “premium” pen brands get into an interesting place
  • the expectations that sometimes come with pens in this price range make it difficult to live up to the “Holy Grail” hype
  • these are still tools, and there’s a law of diminishing returns on the price of any pen, for sure, Visconti’s not immune to that
  • all that said, Visconti attracts a lot of attention because of their palladium nibs, which are unique to them
  • these nibs are a double-edged sword, they’re very soft which makes them feel amazing
  • their softness also makes them a challenge to grind and polish, beyond steel or even gold nibs
  • the vast majority of these pens we see are wonderful, but the smaller percentage of ones that have flow issues are all that much more heartbreaking
  • combine the virality of the brand, excitement of the designs and hype around the brand with high expectations, high cost, it’s a lot to live up to
  • people naturally want to share negative feedback more than positive too (9 times more likely)
  • there are some legit issues though, that need to be addressed
  • Visconti’s last visit here, they admitted that and reiterated with me that they want to correct those
  • Dante’s not there anymore, there’s a new CEO who has a background in business process and quality control
  • this is something they want to improve, but it doesn’t happen overnight
  • in the meantime we’ll do everything we can to make it right, for sure
  • Visconti/Coles of London stand behind their products and will make things right
  • it’s all a matter of personal choice, in the end


2) Melissa H.- Facebook (27:54)
I have Diamine Ochre and I desperately want to use it again. However it made my nibs so crusty and gross I consider just throwing away the bottle :/ Is there anything I can add or do to keep this ink from getting gunky? I love the color, but it’s not worth the hassle.

  • this isn’t just a Diamine Ochre issue
  • I see this on several oranges, coppers, and reds
  • Diamine Ancient Copper, Pumpkin, Terra-cotta, Ochre, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite, and other inks too
  • it’s when you have a high concentration of dyes, perhaps even particular types or colors of dyes (as not all inks do it) that dry up and crystalize on the nib when the water evaporates
  • wiping it off or getting it wet again gets rid of it right away
  • it’s more aesthetic than anything
  • I haven’t done testing or honestly read anyone who’s tried this, but since it’s mainly an evaporation issue, I suspect if you dilute the ink it’ll lessen the problem
  • experiment in small batches first
  • dilute too much and it could impact the color/saturation of the ink

3) jcoletrain84- Instagram (31:53)
How often do pens need to be ‘re-greased’? I currently own a few piston fillers as well as some Noodler’s Charlie pens that I have had for at least 2 yrs. Should I lubricate them even though I’m not having any issues?

  • WAY less often than most people probably think
  • I hear this more with TWSBI pens than anything
  • let the pen tell you when it needs grease
  • the main sign is when the piston starts to drag or feel really hard to move
  • if you are completely disassembling the pen to clean it and wipe off the existing grease from the seal/barrel, then regrease it
  • in normal circumstances you don’t need to do it more than once a year, at most
  • Charlie pens are different, that’s an eyedropper pen, that should ideally see some grease on those threads ever time you refill it


4) Debra B.- Facebook (36:29)
Are the plastic sample vial holders stackable? What suggestions do you have to show the ink color on the TOP of the sample ink vials?

  • you can stack them, but I don’t know that I feel comfortable calling them stackable just because they don’t lock into place
  • there are all kinds of cool tricks I’ve seen for people labeling the tops of the vials
  • my favorite has to be using paper hole reinforcers, they fit perfectly and look really cool


5) Francisco L.- Facebook (40:14)
Hey Brian! In this last Q&A you spoke about your journals. I would love to see your own personal journal collection!

  • my collection is…eclectic
  • I test a bunch of different ones, which makes using/storing/referencing them pretty hard, especially bc I’m not super organized as is!
  • lots of Rhodia/Leuchtturm, couple of Traveler’s Notebooks for portability
  • Some Lines A Day, been using daily for 5 months now
  • I have TONS of other sample notebooks that I hang onto for reference
  • more than anything, I get samples that just don’t cut the mustard (paper quality)


6) Priwolfe- Instagram (52:27)
One of your competitors has really ramped up their social media presence as of late. Especially bringing “pen celebs” into their Instagram world. Competition is what makes the market work, how do you engage in that competition intentionally? How do you respond or re-examine and evaluate your own online presence in light of what others are doing? Really love all the work and team @gouletpens! Thank you for all that you guys do for the pen community and all that you have done in fostering my own pen addiction.

  • I honestly don’t spend much time at all observing or thinking about my competition or what they do
  • I have awareness about what goes on in general, as I have to make sure I have a pulse on the “marketplace”
  • being this engaged with the community and our customers, you’ll tell us everything we’re doing right or wrong, for better or worse!
  • if someone else is doing something really engaging and amazing, we’re told about it if it’s important or relevant, otherwise I don’t really care
  • in today’s business world, especially in retail, especially online, if you’re not ramping up your social media presence and trying new and exciting things, you’re in trouble
  • it’s not just a wow factor anymore, it’s becoming permission-to-play for staying in business
  • competition in a niche like fountain pens looks a little different too
  • I truly, truly believe that the rising tide raises all ships in the fountain pen world
  • the biggest competition we ALL face as fountain pen retailers is obsolescence, and nothing would make me happier than to see every single pen retailer start absolutely CRUSHING IT on social media because it would create more awareness, excitement, and demand for the pens we love so dearly, and that will help us all out
  • lastly, this year has been hard for us
  • we’ve lost two experienced people from our media team this year, we were distracted with our move, and we’ve been hiring covering the missed work for months now
  • we’re in a rebuilding phase, so don’t think we’ve gone dormant, we’re going to continue to evaluate what we’re doing and innovate

7) Jeffrey H.- YouTube (59:39)
Do you ever do shifts as another role in your company to identify unmet needs of your employees, resolve inefficiencies in process, and “leading from the front”? (For example, working to fulfill orders or answering the customer service line.)

  • yes, at times
  • I have served in many of the roles in our company at some point
  • does that mean it’s wise to continue to do so? Not often, but at times when it’s needed I’ll jump in and help, especially if there’s a particular challenge or process issue we’re working through
  • with 41 (soon to be 43) people, if I covered for any given role when it was needed I’d never do anything else, so we plan for redundancy within the teams we’ve built here so that I don’t often get put in that position
  • right now, we don’t have a videographer, so I’m editing these Q&A’s temporarily because it’s pretty straightforward and it’s not as easily covered by someone else
  • Fulfilling orders is rare for me now, we have such a solid team in place there, I’ll sometimes get looped in or just observe how things have changed periodically to see if there’s anything I can challenge
  • Customer service I handle some escalated things, but the team is really solid there too
  • I’m a little more hands on in marketing efforts, especially being more involved in videos and as the face of our brand
  • I believe in focusing on doing the things that only I can do as often as possible
  • I think I understand where you’re coming from with “leading from the front”, and I do understand that…I think given my very hands-on nature and tendency to do rather than lead, it’s actually more beneficial for me to be a little more hands off, and spend time doing the work that only I’m able to do
  • Things like vision-setting, key vendor relationships, making strategic and financial decisions, celebrating the work of my team and reinforcing our company values, these are all things that better serve my team in terms of leadership than me doing their jobs

QOTW: Is there social media activity you see other pen retailers or companies doing that you would like to see at GouletPens? What do you feel we could be doing that we aren’t now? (1:05:47)

Write On,
Brian Goulet