In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Arco pens, stacked nibs, and Myers-Briggs. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) @dalstondoll- Twitter (6:54)

What’s an arco pen? I know lots of companies make them- is it a colour, style or material?

  • it’s a type of celluloid, made popular by the company OMAS
  • It wasn’t as revered as it is now, it became sensationalized when the company went under 5 years ago
  • Amando Simoni Club acquired their remaining stock from what I understand, which is why you still see it
  • the material isn’t being made anymore, it’s my understanding that the last remaining celluloid manufacturer stopped making it around 5 years ago due to safety and environmental regulations
  • Pineider made an Arco pen, but it was an acrylic resin material that Dante designed, not the same celluloid
  • There isn’t a strict definition of what “Acro” means, but I think it’s generally a layered dark brown pearlescent material made in a pen

2) Dian T- Facebook (13:27)

Recently I watched some videos on pens (shocking I know) and I came across someone using what looked to be stacked nibs. What is the purpose of stacking nibs? Is it something worth pursuing?

  • This is something that Sailor really led the charge with decades ago, with Mr. Nagahara (and his son) designing many different layered nibs
  • Ralph Reyes has been a young nib guy experimenting with layers lately, very much inspired by Sailor’s nibs
  • The main purpose of stacking is two fold, it allows for a larger tipping area for dramatic tip shapes that write very wet/wide, changes thickness based on writing angle, etc
  • You can get close to this with just a huge glob of tipping, but basically, those nibs aren’t available unless it’s tipped from the factory like that (and most pen companies aren’t tipping their own nibs)
  • There’s a whole other level of aesthetic artistry to layering nibs, which has its own appeal that isn’t entirely functional, but more form
  • Is it worth pursuing? that’s very much up for debate…you’ll pay a premium because it requires so much skill and time to make and very very few are doing it
  • It’s more of a novelty, really, and something you should only consider if you’re wanting to essentially buy functional art, and support a nib craftsman

3) osmancandatr- Instagram (18:19)

Why are the EF nib fountain pens more expensive than the same m nib fountain pens?

  • This often isn’t the case, but it is sometimes, especially on lower priced pens
  • the lower the price of the pen, the harder it is to absorb cost variances across different products (like tip sizes)
  • Some is probably supply and demand, there’s been an increase in EF demand in the last few years (mostly in China, I believe)
  • EF nibs are a little more challenging to write well, it’s less forgiving so requires a little more attention and hand work, likely has a higher defect rate in manufacturing
  • that’s basically it…slightly higher demand, harder to meet supply, hence, higher price (sometimes)

4) @lorentzframe- Twitter (21:20)

I tend to daub a tiny bit of silicone grease on all threads in all pens. Is that a bad idea? Are there materials that react badly to silicone grease? What about vaseline / petroleum jelly? Is that a safe alternative to silicone grease? In all cases? In some cases? In no cases?

  • if it’s pure silicone grease it’s pretty inert, which is why it’s so great for fountain pens (rubber, plastic, metal)
  • Petroleum jelly is generally not advised…it can be used for a time with seemingly little ill effect, but it is a petroleum byproduct, so will not play well with rubber like on o-rings and piston seals (can turn them gummy), ebonite (hard rubber), some plastics and maybe other materials (like celluloid)
  • it also will liquify with heat, so carrying a pen around in your pocket could warm it up and cause it to leak out of threads…it can make for a lubricant, but not so much a sealant
  • bottom line is yes, it can work in a pinch, but it’s not the best tool for the job, silicone grease is really the way to go

Business

5) bradthebear1- Instagram (28:18)

How does Goulet handle its own QC when it comes to stuff like their JoWo Goulet nibs?

  • it’s on a case-by-case basis, our QC methods vary based on what the product is
  • nibs are a lot different than pen flush or ink samples or brass sheets!
  • nibs we’re very fortunate, as JoWo does a fantastic job with them
  • we initially checked EVERY nib when it came in, which took a massive amount of time and we basically lost money with all the labor it took to check them, but we wanted to be certain they were good quality
  • we would use loupes to visually inspect, thread tines with brass sheet, and put nib to paper for feel, smoothing as required
  • as time went on we lightened up on this approach, mostly because we saw very adequate quality from JoWo and found the checking we were doing to be redundant
  • now we’re on more of a spot-checking basis for tine slit and tip smoothness, with visual inspection on each nib as we’re packaging them
  • So for something like JoWo-made nibs where we know the manufacturer has a really high quality control rate, we are spot-checking at this point
  • For our own made goods, we’re much more diligent, basically testing and inspecting every single item

6) Ashley W.- Facebook (32:40)

Every time I figure out what ink I want, it’s out of stock on your site. Is there a best time of the week or month to shop on gouletpens.com for maximum availability of products for those of us who struggle with picking a color?

  • Every time? Dang, I’m sorry, that’s just bad timing
  • With around 700 or so ink colors across 19 different brands, we have ink coming and going constantly, daily
  • there really isn’t a “best” time, unless you have signed up for an email notification on a particular color and you get that email that it’s back in stock, then it’s the faster the better!
  • that said, we’re closed on the weekends, so generally speaking we have more in stock during the week when we’re receiving shipments
  • we try to keep accurate stock levels, but it’s always a moving target, and some brands we can only get stocked every few months (like De Atramentis)
  • lots of times we order things, it gets delayed, we’re shorted, it could break in transit, all kinds of things can cause issues!

7) kittykatkatelovesespresso- Instagram (39:03)

Hi Everyone at Goulet! I am a small business owner (a specialty coffee roastery) and I find that my Meyers Briggs personality type has a LOT to do with how I interact with my employees and solve conflicts (I am an INFP, a mediator who listens to everyone!). I just saw the 8 month old video where Brian asks everyone what pen and ink they are using and it made me wonder.. Brian and Rachel: what are your Meyers Briggs personality types and how do they affect your leadership style?

  • great question, MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) was huge years ago in business, now I think it’s still relevant but maybe a little less in vogue
  • one site that’s really good for it is 16personalities.com (no affiliation), the test is free and they have plain-speak summaries of each personality type
  • personally I have a hard time remembering 16 different combinations with nearly 40 people in our company, so it’s not something that’s as useful on the fly for us
  • We’ve also done DISC, StrengthsFinder, and Languages of Appreciation, so we’re big on trying to understand individuals here
  • We have done specific MBTI training with our leaders, and that’s been helpful
  • I’m an ENTP (“The Debater”), so I will often challenge and question as a means of exploring options or bringing out the best ideas in others…generally improvisational, big picture-oriented, risk-tolerant, procrastinates and disorganized but energetic, fun, and self-improvement oriented
  • Rachel is an ISTJ (“The Logistician”), she’s the one who manages details and keeps the wheels on the bus (in my life, especially!)…detailed, organized, structured, honest, productive, and fact-driven
  • Rachel and I end up making up a pretty dynamic team, especially because we both cover each other’s weaknesses really well
  • As the business has grown we’ve specifically sought to hire and raise up others on our team that either emulate or complement our strengths, and this kind of stuff is something we often think about
  • I wouldn’t tout MBTI as the sole system to use in your company, but it’s absolutely beneficial to use on small teams where you’re really spending time together, as part of a portfolio of other personality/communication-oriented assessments

QOTW: What’s your Myers-Briggs? What has it done for you to know it? (47:58)

Write On,
Brian Goulet