In this episode, I talk about some next level pens, what it’s like moving buildings and websites, and my 5 criteria in an EDC pen.

This week:


1) itsmostlypicturesofmydog- Instagram  

I’d never given much attention to the pilot stargazer until Rachel said it was basically a prera with a gold nib and metal body, but at that point, I knew that I had to have it. Are there any other “if you liked (blank), this is just like an upgraded version of that!” that you know of? Seems like it would be great for people looking for their first “next level” pens!

2) wmp_21- Instagram 

What’s a next level stub nib? There’s all sorts of talk about 14kt gold nibs for EF and F. But beyond starter stubs from pens like TWSBI or Monteverde I don’t hear too much about better stubs. Thank you!

3) Martha L.- Facebook 

What makes a gold nibbed pen the same price as a steel nibbed pen? Is there really huge differences in the bodies of the steel nibbed high-priced pens to warrant $120 + prices? Are the steel nibbed pens better constructed than a similar priced gold nib pen? Just wondering why we see gold nibbed and steel nibbed pens having the same price…

  • short answer: it varies
  • it could be build quality, rarity of materials, manufacturer’s costs/prices, there are a lot of factors
  • looking across brands, you can find some cheaper gold nib pens from Platinum, Pilot, and Lamy, that overlap with some of the pricier steel nib pens like Montegrappa, Edison, Visconti
  • It’s rare to see gold nib pens of a single brand to overlap in price with steel nib pens in the same brand, that’s really a more fair comparison
  • When you’re comparing globally manufactured pens, there could be so many economic factors that come into play (currency conversion, local taxes at the manufacturer, tariffs, shipping costs, buying direct vs. through distribution, etc)

4) Dennis K.- Facebook 

Western pens tend to have wider nib, while Japanese pens are opposite. Then should we match inks like this? Western pens use western inks and Japanese pens use Japanese inks?

  • Good question! It never hurts to match the pen manufacturer’s ink to their pens, as that’s what they test them with
  • As far as I know, there aren’t specific common properties of Japanese inks that make them more or less suited for Japanese pens or writing than European inks
  • the chemical formulations are all somewhat of a mystery
  • I wouldn’t be overly concerned with this as a parameter for your ink usage, unless it’s just a preference

5) Sabrina S.- Facebook 

Can you discuss the Opus 88 pens in more detail? Are there major differences between the Koloro and Picnic (or is it only the design that differs)? I’m also interested in how the shut-off valve works (I’m a visual learner so a demo would be helpful). Thanks!

  • Regular Color and Picnic aren’t that different, really just material, color, and rounded-ness of the ends
  • nibs are identical
  • filling is the same
  • ink capacity similar
  • Koloro Demonstrator is a different beast altogether, it really could be under a different name than Koloro
  • bigger nib, larger overall, doesn’t post, whole different look


6) 1shubh- Instagram 

How do you see your management team expanding, in which directions over the next 3 years? More towards Customer Care, Media & curation or Operations/ Fulfillment? Is this an internal capacity need or an external market competition need to fulfilled?

  • We’ve expanded rapidly in terms of our people over the last 5-7 years, but we’re slowing down
  • We have two levels of leadership in our company, managers/supervisors and directors
  • Rachel and I have recruited for leadership to delegate our responsibilities as we’ve grown, so as our company grows we’ll continue doing that to higher levels
  • directors are the newest levels, and we’re actually looking for a new Director of Marketing
  • Someone to help with our branding, strategy, overseeing our existing content team, and working closely with our other directors in senior leadership for company-wide direction
  • Definitely head to our site and check that out on the Join Our Team page if you are interested or know someone who would be qualified, this will be an extremely important position and we’ll be very picky, we definitely want prior experience in marketing, management, and leadership
  • Beyond that, we have some idea but they aren’t fully formed enough for me to share publicly, but I can say our focus is going to be moreso on stabilizing, building up our existing team, and focusing on technology and efficiency now that we’re settled in to our new space and new website
  • I don’t see us expanding as rapidly in terms of management in the short term future, but then, that all depends on how rapidly we see growth and the challenges we face, so that isn’t ever set in stone

7) Beth A.- Facebook 

What are your main takeaways this year from moving in reality and online? What are the similarities and differences between the two moves? Any lessons you will like to share?

  • both are hard, take a long time, and are incredibly expensive!
  • moving the physical space was very disruptive, and required more effort
  • similarities: both have risk, are stressful with timelines, require a ton of communication, coordination, delegation, and project management skills, delays WILL happen, costs WILL run over
  • differences: physical move required more physical activity, moving around, driving between both locations, etc. Website was all virtual, so was very efficient as we could talk over email/webcast and across devices
  • lessons: don’t try to do both at the same time. We spaced them a year apart and I’m glad we did, it would have been too much to do both
  • SAVE YOUR MONEY, it’s going to cost a lot, and financing isn’t always easy for these types of expenses
  • Always get at least 3 quotes on everything. It takes more time but you’ll be much more confident you’re making a good choice
  • don’t necessarily go with the cheapest contractor, go with the one who you feel will communicate the best and be most competent in doing what you need
  • adjust your expectations for other projects, it won’t be business as usual
  • we’ve structured thematic goals around these moves for the last two years, so the whole company stays focused on it
  • you WILL make compromises, so be prepared to let things go badly at times. Build in extra time in your timeline, don’t strap yourself for every last penny, and prepare to have to kick some butts to make things happen.


8) Debbie C.- Facebook 

What are the top 5 things Brian looks for in a everyday pen?

  • depends what you mean by “everyday”, that could mean carry in a pocket or just write with daily, like at a desk
  • I’m going to interpret it in the way I uses “everyday” pens, which is carrying them around in my pocket
  • reliable writer- has to start up pretty easily, be there when I need it
  • durability- I’m not easy on my pocket pens, I will mow the lawn, move furniture, you name it with my pens in my pocket
  • writing feel, pleasant to me- do I just personally like the way it writes? A lot of pens I have do
  • easy uncapping- I like it to be quick, as I jot a lot of quick notes
  • fidgetability- I really like to play with my pens, so ones that are fun to uncap or have some kind of texture I find interesting that I can fidget with in meetings is ideal
  • My two EDC pens right now are my Visconti Homo Sapiens in fine and Traveler’s Pen

QOTW: What pen/ink is the last one you just wrote with?

Writing prompt: Transcribe the lyrics to your favorite song.

Write On,

Brian Goulet