In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about what makes someone a beginner, Goulet Nation, and Black Friday recap!

This week:


1) Jocklynn S.- Facebook (15:52)

What constitutes a beginner fountain pen versus an intermediate or advanced? And how do I know if I’ve successfully graduated to the next level??

  • This is totally, 100% subjective and there’s no strict rules around it
  • beginners- exploratory phase, first 6-12 months of pen use
    • often are just looking to understand what fountain pens even are, how they work
    • spend a ton of time watching videos, reading blogs, browsing retail sites getting your head around it all
    • you have more questions than answers!
    • price, reliability, and simplicity/ease of use are often motivators
    • sticking with steel nib pens, usually in the sub-$50 range
    • loading up on ink samples, maybe a couple of bottles
  • intermediate- refinement phase, 6mo-5 years+ of pen use
    • when you start getting into a variety of different nib sizes (maybe buying the same of pens you like with different colors or nibs)
    • you start to have a preference for certain inks in certain pens, can tell the difference
    • you can differentiate the tooth, spring, and flow of different nibs even among same nibs sizes and materials
    • different materials, preference for the feel of the material itself
    • might do some breakdown/cleaning, swapping nibs, eyedropper conversions, etc
    • you have more of an understanding of different models, styles, and functions of pens and start to develop a preference towards the ones you like, discerning your pen palate
  • advanced- benevolence phase, 5-10+ years of pen use
    • you get into collecting LE’s
    • nib customization, you know who does what nib work and what their specialty is
    • deep knowledge of pen brands, their histories
    • handwriting scripts
    • have maybe gone to pen shows or meetups and are usually the one people gather around because of the rare or interesting collection you have
    • perhaps you have a social media channel or two devoted to your pen passion with a loyal followership
    • you still enjoy learning  about pens, but it’s often more about the meaning, people, history behind them and you enjoy the knowledge-sharing  aspect of the hobby as much as the pens themselves
  • These are completely made up from me, don’t take them too seriously
  • important thing is not to get hung up on titles, the important thing is that you enjoy the journey, wherever you are!


2) Brandon G.- Facebook (23:17)

What is the one accessory (traveling ink wells, cases, rest, etc.) that has made your fountain pen experience more pleasurable over the years? And what are your top five (if you have five) list you would recommend to others?

  • #1 is easy, it’s the bulb syringe! I’ve cleaned thousands of pens over the years and saves who knows how many hours
  • cases are pretty important, I’ve used many of them and it’s less about which specific case, but having something that works for you and your pens is pretty crucial
  • silicone grease
  • loupe, not required at the beginning but crucial for me now
  • micromesh (again, not for everyone but I use it a lot when tuning my own nibs)


3) Renee O.- Facebook (28:11)

What happened to the Pilot 100th Anniversary mega expensive pen set? I was really more interested in the process used; I’m sure there were more than one interested parties.

  • it’s found a home with it’s new owner
  • this was a unique set, even for us
  • by far most expensive pen/set we ever sold, so we wanted to be thoughtful about it
  • sets like these are rare, and not usually an impulse buy, so we weren’t trying to get rid of it right away
  • this was a more “hands on” sales process than most of our other pens
  • we listed it, shot the video, gathered all info from email notification list, anyone who emailed, called, etc into one place
  • once we had given several weeks for word to get out about it, we contacted everyone who’d expressed any serious interest
  • we let them know our terms of the sale, which we worked out based on how we thought best to sell a set of this amount
  • I won’t go into detail about how we chose who got it, but it really came down to two people who were seriously interested
  • super expensive or rare pens get into a very interesting place, and are often more about personal connections and relationships than defined processes, so it really is just playing each one by ear
  • but this set went to someone who was really thrilled to get it, and is greatly enjoying it!

4) Odette B.- Facebook (32:42)

What do you think about the success of the Facebook group? And does it bother you that people show off pens they’ve bought from other retailers?

  • Goulet Nation! Approaching 10k members now
  • Engagement is INSANE, better than I could have even thought
  • What’s cool to see is that it’s not just pen super fans (Penablers as they call themselves), which is cool
  • But they also really have made a community out of the group
  • sending each other pens out of charity
  • creating name, logo, bingo cards, advent calendars, other swag
  • supporting each other through loss, tragedy, amazing to see
  • it’s obviously our private group, but we wanted it to be more than just a Goulet superfan club that we heavily moderated
  • we understand that even the most hardcore Goulet fans will own things we don’t sell, and it’s okay to “spread it around” when it makes sense
  • we have rules in the group about self-promotion, blatant pointing of people away from us to other retailers, selling their own stuff
  • we want people to have “real talk” in there, we’re not just trying to be big brother
  • part of what we love though is getting insights into your pen worlds, so even if you’re posting about things we don’t sell or elsewhere that you buy it, you’re still helping to educate us and learn where we could improve, potentially
  • it’s really just all about continuing  that feedback loop that we’ve appreciated from the founding of our company, it helps us to be in touch, grassroots, and serve you best!

5) n_munos- Instagram (40:27)

It appears there are many bridges to cross within the fountain pen industry from lack of accessibility to convenience. I love fountain pens and just deal with the challenges but in your opinion what issues whether expensive paper to marketing or manufacturing do you think need to improve to keep from deterring less enthusiastic individuals in overcoming certain challenges.

  • fountain pens inherently have a lot of challenges, there’s a learning curve
  • education is actually one of the biggest barriers, and we’re working hard to bridge that, constantly
  • we’re dealing with thinking about how to curate all our content now, because we have SO much of it and are putting out more daily
  • I think in the big big big picture the biggest challenge we’ll have is kids not necessarily being taught how to write with pens in school, so as a society we may move away from the practicality of using a pen at all
  • manufacturers are in this interesting place where they are caught between the old and new world, and some just might not “get it”, others will and will grow a lot
  • We’re working to try to 1) educate the pen community and anyone interested in pen knowledge and use, and 2) working with distributors and manufacturers to help them innovate, stay relevant, and grow
  • marketing is always a challenge, because the world is changing fast and we have to keep up with it
  • these are all really fun challenges though! I love it and plan to make some ripples as time goes on

6) @LucyHoneychurch- Twitter (47:34)

If I remember it correctly you didn’t have a Black Friday sale before this year, would you like to talk about why you changed this?

  • we’ve done other things in the past, but this was definitely the most intentionally we’ve ever leaned into it
  • in the past, I was always very prideful about rarely running sales, not paying for any advertising, etc
  • I may have overcorrected, never wanting to devalue our customer service, shipping, any of our brands or products, or pushing anything on anyone that they didn’t expressly want
  • I wanted any sale things we did to come from a good place in our hearts, so we have waited years to get into the BFCM scene
  • I’m actually a terrible salesman, everything we’ve focused on building with Goulet Pens has been very heavy into branding, not sales per se
  • This year we just had better foresight, better planning, a team that had their hands around what we were doing, and we were able to strike what we felt was a healthy balance of exciting sales and deals with our ability to support during those sales, promote products that our brands supported, clear out some of our overstock on things that would keep our company healthy, and be really exciting for you at a time when you can be served well with some good deals leading into the holidays
  • it just felt like time to lean into it a little bit more, especially based on customer expectations/encouragement
  • the most important thing to realize is our heart behind it all, we really want to serve you well, serve our team well, keep our company healthy and brands strong

QOTW: What do you consider yourself to be in your pen journey, a beginner, intermediate, or advanced? (56:35)

Writing Prompt: Write a thank you card to someone you know. (56:59)

Write On,
Brian Goulet