Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Mission of Goulet Pens

The Goulet Pen Company (GPs) is located in Ashland, Virginia (USA). According to its website, its mission “is to provide writing enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.” The Goulet Pen Company has done something amazing: It accomplishes its mission. 

The company has been around for about four years and is co-run by a young couple, Brian and Rachel Goulet. They decided to sell what some might see as the modern day buggy whip: fountain pens, ink, and related products. Their growth has been enormous, from working out of their home to having a brick and mortar building (although the business is exclusively online) and many employees.

How is GPs personal; how many ways do you make contact with another person? Everyone has customer reviews, but Goulet goes further: hand written messages on purchases by members of the Goulet team; video reviews and announcements of new products, often by Brian Goulet; Goulet Q&A, weekly videos by Brian and sometimes by Brian and Rachel Goulet; Monday Match-Up, essays by members of the Goulet team with photos of particular pen and ink combinations; and other social media experiments. One of my early interactions with GPs was simple but telling. I e-mailed a question to Brian Goulet, who answered personally on a Sunday afternoon.

As for education, in addition to the above features, GPs offers Fountain Pen 101 (a tutorial series), the Swab Shop (visual comparisons of different inks), the Nib Nook (visual comparisons of lines put down by different nibs), the Pen Plaza (visual comparisons of different pens), and a chart comparing Noodler’s inks by their properties. Sometimes GPs produces videos that simply pull together information, for instance, inks that shade really well and good fountain pens for people new to fountain pens. You really can have a great time watching videos and reading -- and not buy a thing.

Of course, the point of GPs is for us to buy stuff. Honestly, I want to buy from Goulet. I feel as though I am reimbursing the company for all the personal and educational experiences, as well as the entertainment and service.

Although so many of us shop online, GPs understands that once you make that purchase, you want it now. I don’t think I have ever bought something that not did not ship the next day at the latest. If I buy it early enough, it might ship that day. Combine that with priority mail, and I have a little time to anticipate receiving my purchase but just a little. And it will be packed so carefully that unwrapping it gives me a little more time to anticipate.

Brian and Rachel Goulet write somewhere, thank you for letting us do what we love (that’s at least a near quote). That’s a compelling message. Maybe the Goulets are master manipulators who have created alternate online identities, and they would never touch a fountain pen, even if it were the last pen on earth. I don’t think so, but of course, if they’re master manipulators, I’m not supposed to think so. I think they’re legit, though. Of course, I’m supposed to think they’re legit….

GPs makes me wish I were a new college graduate looking for that first after-college job. I would love to be a member of the Goulet team for awhile.

Do yourself a favor and visit the GPs website.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with the Goulet Pen Company, other than as a customer. I just like their style and, of course, the products they sell.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Urban Sketchers

I recently discovered a group of artists -- urban sketchers -- and this happened not because I was researching art or artists but because I was reading about one of the tools of visual art, ink.

The Goulet Pen Company has a blog post about De Atramentis inks (“Document Inks Are Back!” April 2, 2015). Given their properties, these special inks are great for artists. Here, the post mentions urban sketchers and in particular Liz Steel and the Sketchbook Skool. Click on these links, look around on the web, and you’ll find a whole new world. Among other fascinating things I discovered are Shoo Rayner’s sketching videos and Tina Koyama’s blog, “Fueled by Clouds & Coffee."  All of these are enough to make you want to buy a sketchbook! (Note: Ms. Steel also reviewed the De Atramentis inks on her blog.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Great and Powerful Sull


Back in September at the Dallas Pen Show, I had the opportunity to meet Michael Sull, a master penman. I had seen Mr. Sull the previous year, but I have to admit, I didn’t really know what he did. At both shows, he had some interesting (what I would have called) dip pens, but he wasn’t selling pens like everyone else. Mostly, he looked to be writing people’s names in amazing script. Last year, I attended his session on letter writing. 

As a master penman, Mr. Sull is extremely skilled in Spencerian script, Copperplate, and no doubt many other forms; he is an artist. His session, though, was about handwriting for the rest of us. He didn’t show us how he does what he does. Rather, he spoke with us about "making our writing special” (a near quote, I think) in simpler ways having to do with paper, ink, and other things. He even distributed special rainbow colored pencils -- one pencil with one lead of several colors.

Mr. Sull’s enthusiasm for and love of his work were apparent. Among his projects, Mr. Sull is trying to rescue handwriting. A few years ago, he and Debra Sull (2010/2011) published American Cursive Handwriting, a “handwriting system,” a “self-study workbook and curriculum.” Although many school districts no longer regard handwriting as necessary, the debate continues. Sull and Sull is a very timely book.

After the show, I discovered an amazing video on the IAMPETH (International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting) website, an interview with Mr. Sull conducted by Dr. Joseph Vitolo. Material in Sull and Sull (2010/2011) and the interview are a great introduction to the evolution and importance of handwriting in the US going back 100 years. Forget computers and iphones; this is pre-typewriter! For those of us who love fountain pens, how we use our pens is at least as important as the pens themselves. This, I think, was the take-home message of Mr. Sull’s session.  For Mr. Sull's website, go to