Archive for The Inside Scoop
Some during August-September I will be organizing a project to compare the different Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis and G. Lalo paper surfaces and how they interact with different writing instruments and inks.
We will collect the comments of as many people as possible on their experience with an individual product paper–how it feels to the touch, how their pen (pencil or other writing instrument) moves across the surface and interacts with it; basically–what is their experience, and what they like (or don’t like) about it.
The summary of the comments can be a good reference not only for people getting started with journals and notepads, but also for expert practitioners to exchange experiences with each other.
The products I am thinking of including for this comparison are: classic Clairefontaine notebook paper; Clairefontaine Triomphe pads, R by Rhodia pads, classic Rhodia notepads, Rhodia Ice, Rhodia Webbies, Quo Vadis Habanas, G. Lalo Verge de France pads, and G. Lalo correspondence cards.
People can test each sheet with their favorite writing instruments (fountain pens, rollerballs, pencils, etc.) and contribute feedback via an online form. We will publish the results on both Quo Vadis Blog and Rhodia Drive either in December 2014 or January 2015.
Each person would be limited to three or four different sheets per month (that I can send in a first class letter), but can sign up each month for other papers to sample and add their thoughts.
What do you think? Are there specific questions we should ask? Are there any other product papers you would like to try? Your input at this stage is very much appreciated and welcome. As always, thank you for your thoughtful suggestions, help and support.
The company that imports and distributed Rhodia to the United States is called “Exaclair.” Some of you may wonder who or what exactly is “Exaclair.” I have never written about the company and thought I would do so now, as more and more people seem to be searching for “Exaclair products.”
The name Exaclair is a combination of the company, Exacompta Clairefontaine–our umbrella corporate parent based in France. This conglomerate includes 30 or 40 (I’m not sure of the number) different companies. We import products from 11 of those companies to the U.S. We are the exclusive U.S. importer and distributor of Exacompta Clairefontaine products to the United States. Our corporate website can be found here.
Exaclair was founded in 1984 — 30 years ago — by Christine Nusse, a fifth generation family member of Clairefontaine. Her father, Charles Nusse, also founded Exacompta, which originally started out making accounting ledgers and now makes a variety of office supply products sold throughout Europe and North America.
Christine Nusse literally started out with a suitcase of Clairefontaine and G. Lalo samples, showing them to (then) the many stationery stores on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan and Midtown. From there, Exaclair products have expanded to stores throughout the country where fine writing and paper products are sold.
In my 15 years at Exaclair, I have seen major changes in the stationery industry. Chief among them were the rise of email, smart phones and big box stores. The 9/11 disaster also eliminated many small stationery and office supply stores in Lower Manhattan, and much of the local printing industry.
I would estimate that 80% of Exaclair’s retail customers on the books on May 1, 1999 — my start date with the company — have subsequently gone out of business or been taken over. At that time, Palm Pilots were starting to impact sales of address books, and email was just getting popular. These changes dealt a cruel blow to social stationery.
When I started with Exaclair, G. Lalo and Clairefontaine were the most popular brands. It is now Rhodia, Clairefontaine and J. Herbin.
We are very proud of our products and stand behind them. If we get questions on any products, we follow up immediately with the parent company in France and the consumer. We are all very appreciative of the loyalty and support of consumers and local retailers.
We are very optimistic about the future. Our sales are growing, and we believe it’s because of the quality of our paper and the company’s good environmental record. As people return to paper to create, relax, express themselves or just slow down, we are confident that they will find our brands, and enjoy the pleasure of writing the way all of us do.
We have gotten a couple of requests and emails asking where to find Rhodia planners for the academic year (August-July). This edition has been discontinued in both the large and pocket size.
However, the Rhodia Weekly Planner in calendar year (January-December 2015) will start to ship to retailers the first week of June, and should be on shelves in July. It is available in both pocket and large in black and orange.
As an alternative, our most popular Quo Vadis academic edition is the Scholar. Like the Rhodia weekly, it has plenty of room for notes.
This week on our Retailer Spotlight we have the lovely duo from Anderson Pens, Lisa and Brian Anderson! For our readers who do not know about Anderson Pens here’s a bit of background from their website and e-store www.andersonpens.net:
“Established in 2010, AndersonPens.net was developed to combine the efforts of Brian Anderson’s Esterbrook.net, and Lisa Anderson’s ProperPads to bring pens and paper together all in one place.”
They have become big enough to successfully open a brand new retail location in Appleton, WI which if you’re in the area you definitely need to check out! Continue Readering »
Rhodia has designed two new notepads for its 80th anniversary year (1934-2014): a white cover with silver logo pad, and a special 80th anniversary pad, with an interesting orange gold grid pattern on the cover.
We are calling the new “Bloc White” – Rhodia Ice.
Both pads will be featured at the National Stationery Show in New York May 18-21. 2014. They will arrive from France within the next two weeks.
Rhodia Ice will be available in six sizes: No. 11, No. 12, No. 13, No. 16, No. 18 and No. 19. The paper is 80g with muted silver grid or lines.
It is the most striking pad I have ever seen, with an elusive beauty and character. It is quite different from anything else–just like Rhodia.
We are reintroducing the Rhodia Drive Retailer Spotlight!
To start us off in the inaugural spot is the fan favorite JetPens. You will find a large assortment of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Brause and J. Herbin over at www.JetPens.com. If you’ve never heard of them or you’re a long time customer here’s your chance to get to know JetPens a little better.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to chat with us about JetPens today. The website has really taken off in the past couple of years and your presence is felt throughout the blogging community and pen fans everywhere.
RhodiaDrive: How did JetPens get started?
I have recently set up three email newsletters: one on exaclair.com, one on quovadisplanners.com, and one for Rhodia, which can be accessed on rhodiapads.com.
People who sign up can expect a newsletter every 4-8 weeks. It will include new product notice and photos; where to meet us at pen or trade shows; and access to special sales or promotions we will host, including close-outs, samples sales and discontinued products.
Rhodia and Quo Vadis newsletters are more brand centric; Exaclair will include everything and everyone (Rhodia, Clairefontaine, J. Herbin, Quo Vadis, G. Lalo, Brause, Decopatch and two new brands from France we are introducing this year: Maildor and Avenue Mandarine.)
Needless to say we will not give, lend, or sell these lists to anyone, nor use it for any other purpose than communicating news and offers to brand fans. The first newsletters will be sent in January 2014 once our new catalogs are released.
If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please post a comment. Thanks so much.
Since many Rhodia fans have a bottle of J. Herbin ink, I thought I would pass along this good news on Rhodia Drive.
In 2014 J. Herbin will be introducing a new ink, and also making some other changes. I expect to make the announcement sometime in February, when the products are on the way from France to the US and other plans are farther along.
I will also make sure members of the Rhodia Drive community get first crack at the new inks with Rhodia Drive sponsored giveaway.
More news as soon as I have it.
As you might suspect, the largest group on Rhodia Drive is from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France. This is pretty much the top five visitor countries every month.
But the fast-growing demographic comes from Asia. India and Singapore consistently appear in the top ten monthly visitors. If you combine China and Hong Kong, then China represents our largest demographic from Asia. Taiwan and Japan round out the top five.
The biggest importer of Rhodia products is Japan, closely followed by the United States.
Perhaps one way to reach out to more people would be to write a post in both their native language and English. Any volunteers?
I got a call this week from a well-known men’s fashion magazine. They were looking for particular Rhodia notebooks for photo shoot called “Objects of Desire.” The editor asked for A5 and A6 orange and black Rhodia pads with top spiral and also the “classic.”
The pads will be set on a night table by the bed. I guess for easy reach when inspiration can’t wait!
If it was up to you, what Rhodia product would you suggest to the editor?
On the fence about another digital app that says it will make your life easier but fails to deliver?
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should try Life Noted for free today and how we plan on making journaling and planning digitally as rewarding and fun as on paper.
- Life Noted had a unique Today View lets you see all of your notes, photos, videos and events for that day all on one screen.
- Syncs with iCal and all supported calendars. Paired with our note taking feature to create an all in one stop for jotting down ideas and planning out your days, weeks and months.
- Search all notes and events by keyword and never lose an important idea or appointment again.
- By merging calendaring, journaling, organizing, photo and video apps you can have everything in one place and stop juggling multiple apps.
- With our intuitive Month View you can plan ahead accurately and easily. Borders around dates for all day and multi-day events for quick identification. Special feature that allows you to highlight selected calendars to show up in the Month View in a shade of blue so you never forget an important upcoming event again.
Clean and easy to use Life Noted will make recording, retrieving and remembering simple again.
Try it today for free on the App Store.
Exaclair is in the final stages of developing an iPhone app. The app will utilize and expand on iCal, and bring to digital the free form notes people love in paper planners. It will have many other enhancements besides. We are quite excited about it, and looking forward to sharing it with you. It is designed to work with the upcoming iOS 7 platform. We are testing the app on a beta version, and it is quite beautiful and elegant.
The app is is meant to answer the need of our former datebook customers for a digital product; and for those current customers who use both paper and digital, or are planning to move to digital. We also hope having a digital presence will introduce our notebooks and other products to a whole new group of people.
The app – LIFE NOTED – will be available on the app store in September 2013. We’ll let you know as soon as it is available. The app will be Free; $2.99 with full functionality.
The National Stationery Show® held at the Javits Center in NYC, is the world’s most comprehensive collection of social stationery and related products for gift giving and self-expression. The show is open to retailers and wholesalers and if you are are going, be sure to stop by Booth # 2637 to check out a few new Clairefontaine and Rhodia products that we are thinking of importing. As always, we welcome and appreciate your feedback!
While at the show, we will be doing some live Tweeting and also sharing photos and Vine clips on our @Exaclair Twitter account. Karen Doherty (our VP of Marketing) will be at the show on Sunday, May 19 from 9-3 pm and Tuesday May 21st from 9-11:30am if you’d like to meet her, but please feel free to stop by the booth any time the show is open.
More good news: Pen World is publishing an article on Exaclair’s stationery. The edition should be distributed at the show.
The show hours are Sunday-Tuesday, 5/19-5/21 9:00am – 6:00pm and Wednesday, 5/22 9:00am – 12:00pm
I wanted to respond to some Rhodia fan comments/requests on two issues: Rhodia dot spiral notebooks and the darker lines on Rhodia grids.
Rhodia Spiral Dot Pads
In 2012 we introduced spiral dot pads in the No. 13, No. 16 and No. 18 sizes, but discontinued importing the pads by spring. The reason: we discovered the dots were larger than expected and the wrong color. The large purple dots in the spiral pads were supposed to be small grey dots. This was ultimately due to a human error in manufacturing.
Clairefontaine and Rhodia share paper (Clairefontaine paper) but have separate manufacturing facilities. Spiral pads are usually produced at the Clairefontaine facility, since they have the expertise in this particular production process. For this batch production was done at the Rhodia facility, where they made a mistake and printed them in violet. They also used the wrong dye in printing the dot grid.
The mistake has been corrected, and when the stocks of purple dot spirals are gone we will resume importing them to the U.S. There is no ETA yet, but I hope it is later this year.
Dark Violet Grid Lines
The violet ink is darker on Rhodia’s grids. This has presented a practical and aesthetic problem to a number of Rhodia users. We have been badgering Rhodia to see if this change is permanent, or, will Rhodia go back to the softer, faint-colored violet grids we printed in the past.
The answer from Rhodia’s product development, management and engineers: we heard you and we’re trying to get back to the old violet color.
Some background: as per environmental policies, the ink used in Rhodia pads is 100% natural. In terms of the intensity of color, this means while the ink color is the same when printing, the “new ink” is not as sensitive to UV rays as the “old ink” was. The chemical additives in the old ink helped it to lighten within a short period of time.
The sources Rhodia uses for dyes are experimenting with different mixtures to try to reach as close as possible the standard violet they had until 2010. Since the beginning of 2011 the formula is slightly more blue because the company who made a base component of the violet closed.
In both intensity and hue, natural inks also tend to show more variation from one production to another. They are more sensitive to machine speed, direction of paper fibers and other variables. Each run of notepads requires its own fine tuning.
Restoring the notepads to faint violet grid is a company priority. While I do not have an ETA on this change, when we last discussed the issue with our corporate parent a few weeks ago, they were confident a solution will be found soon.
Exaclair will continue to press on the importance and necessity of making the grid color change. We have conveyed your unhappiness and frustration to Rhodia. They heard you, and they are working on the problem.
Any news and updates will be posted on Rhodia Drive and Rhodia Drive Facebook.
“Any plans to make the webnotebooks in SOFT cover? I’ve been using the webby, and love them, but I wish it came in soft cover!”
Rhodia does not make a soft cover Webby. Should we? Do you think there would be a large enough demand vs. hardcover?
The Rhodia Unlimited pocket notebook has a very soft touch cover. However, it has a lot less sheets than a Webnotebook, and only comes in pocket size. Our sales for the Unlimited continue to grow, especially since it is now available in ruled as well as grid.
The ePure line by Rhodia (which is currently not imported to the US since the paper is made in Asia, not France,) includes soft cover leather journals and a thin, flexible leatherette cover. Both are available in large and pocket. The leatherette version is thicker than a Webby.
I have a few samples of ePure available if Webby owners want to try them out and share what they experience with others on Rhodia Drive. Please comment and let me know of your interest.