Five years ago on Nov. 17, 2009 my wife and I received our first shipment of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, and J. Herbin products from Exaclair to sell on our website, GouletPens.com. This was our first foray into fountain pen retailing, and we had a whole new world to discover.
We were new to online retailing, and brand new to the fountain pen world. We had our website that we’d been using to sell our hand-turned wood pens for the previous three years, in a failed former version of our business. We’d devoted three years of our lives trying to build up our company with wood pens, and we simply treaded water.
It wasn’t until I’d discovered fountain pens and the amazing community of folks that are into them that I found my new home. Attending the DC Fountain Pen Supershow in 2009 opened up my eyes to the fact that people are actually into this fountain pen thing, and my discovery of online communities like the Fountain Pen Network showed me that the internet was bringing us together in a way that wasn’t possible even just a few years before. Fountain pen users were no longer isolated from each other. Yes, maybe geographically we are spread out, but online we’re all together sharing with each other. I immediately recognized that this is what had been missing from my wood pen experience, and I dove in head-first to learn everything I possibly could about fountain pens and then turn it around and immediately share it back out freely on my own blog and in my YouTube videos. This laid the groundwork for my company today, and I’ve put out well over 1,000 blog posts and 600 videos with many more to come.
It’s very appropriate that the GouletPens anniversary falls right around Thanksgiving every year, because each year I’m thankful to have spent yet another year doing what I love. The pens, ink, and paper that make up this hobby are great. Though for me they’re not the most satisfying part of being “in the fountain pen business” after five years. It’s the people. Those of us who are into fountain pens have a connection with each other, one that’s hard to explain and even harder to find outside of this community. Because of the internet, blogging, and social media, we are able to find each other and share our knowledge and passion with one another in a way that was difficult to do even ten years ago. I consider myself to be unbelievably fortunate to have discovered fountain pens when I did, with the opportunity that was there for me to participate in the writing community like I do.
It’s no longer just about me and my wife, either. We have had two children since starting our company and been able to build a future for them. We have a team of amazing people that help us do what we do every day, twenty-four of us all working hard to share the fountain pen love. This is something I could not possibly have conceived when I wrote on my first Rhodia pad in 2009, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the community that has taught me so much.
I’m thankful for Exaclair, for allowing a once no-name online retailer like me to start to carry their products and represent their brands. I’m thankful to Stephanie Smith here at RhodiaDrive for blogging passionately and being a resource for me as a fountain pen newbie. I’m thankful for manufacturers like Rhodia who make consistent and reliable fountain-pen friendly products that greatly enhance our writing experience. And most of all I’m thankful for you as a reader of RhodiaDrive for reading and sharing your own knowledge of this writing lifestyle. Your passion and generosity of your knowledge is what drew me in to fountain pens five years ago, and that continues to inspire me to this day.
My birthday is today, December 31st and to have a birthday that pretty much aligns with an actual calendar year is interesting in many ways. One thing I can never seem to escape is using the end of the year to reflect on what I accomplished in that year and what I wish to accomplish in the new year. With this tradition comes another one- the changing of the journal. For the last few years I have raced to finish whatever journal I had been working in for the later part of that year whether with words, art, or ephemera, I always get it done so I can begin anew.
So with the clock counting down, I offer you the challenge to do the same. To finish whatever journal/notebook you’ve been working in and break out a nice new one for tomorrow.
Are you with me?
Image courtesy of Christian Manzella – cmanzella on Instagram
We were standing on the bridge connecting the north and south sides of town last night waiting for the fireworks to begin when I looked up towards South Mountain and said out loud to no one in particular, “Aunt Evelyn isn’t home any more.”
Aunt Ev was actually my great aunt – my grandmother’s sister. There were ten children in their family and the house where my aunt Ev lived until she passed earlier this year was where they all grew up. Everyone in the family affectionately referred to Ev’s house as “Up Home” as in, “We are going up home for a 4th of July picnic.” Continue Readering »
Many towns have some kind of First Friday events. In Bethlehem, we have a celebration of SouthSide businesses with music, food and wine tastings scattered throughout the shopping district.
Tonight at the Banana Factory where I am a current artist in residence, there will be 4 exhibit openings, including the resident artist “White Works” show. There will be live music, glass blowing, ceramic, and jewelry making demonstrations and much more! It all happens from 6-9pm – so if you can, be sure to stop by my studio #249 to say hello!
My 10×10″ acrylic painting on canvas above, “Hayden’s Adventure” was inspired by my friend’s young son and is also the piece I submitted into the White Works exhibit .