Brian Goulet – the Badshah of writing instruments.
Brian and Rachel Goulet, childhood sweethearts who tied the knot, got into pen turning (and may God bless them for it) on a whim, when Brian acquired a lathe and started turning wooden pens as a hobby in 2007. As was destined, hobby turned into occupation in 2008 and in 2009 Brian stepped into the world of fountain pens. In the decade that has followed, the Goulet Pen Company has grown into a leader, setting defining standards in many things from exclusive packaging to video communiques to expanding the horizons of the world of writing instruments and accessories, especially in the emerging realm of social media. And all this, while it has been consistently recognised as a swell place to work and while remaining steadfast and uncompromising in its core values of providing the customer an option that is trustworthy, hardworking, honest, passionate, gratuitous and flexible. Empowering through Education, the Goulet Pen Company has painstakingly built up a reputation that is almost unassailable, one that is enviable and peerless to put things mildly. Brian Goulet, despite his busy schedule was kind enough to answer the queries put forward by Inked happiness. Excerpts:
Inked happiness. From your vantage point, do you see a global revival in the demand for fountain pens?
Brian Goulet: I don’t know about globally, as the vast majority of GouletPens.com’s business is in North America. But there does certainly seem to be a renewed interest in fountain pens with the rise of social media and ease of communication that has created more opportunity for educational content like we focus on. People with an interest in fountain pens now have more resources than ever before online for satisfying their curiosities and connecting with other pen enthusiasts and it’s a wonderful thing to see.
Inked happiness. How do you explain this revival – a part of a bigger move for all things “retro”? A protest against the digital damnation of our lives? A “elitist” hobby? Or is it because of a desire to imbibe the sheer pleasure of writing with a fountain pen?
Brian Goulet: From my perspective fountain pens are actually far less elitist than they were in the past. Free education through YouTube and other channels along with online shopping have allowed for more empowered customers to spend their money wisely. I see many people from all walks of life enjoying fountain pens. I don’t think there’s any one reason why people are discovering and enjoying them, I think it’s a multitude of reasons that are all deeply personal to them. Some are nostalgic and reconnect with pens they used in their youth or perhaps ones that were passed down in their family. Others enjoy the because they are analog tools and are a nice deviation from the digital tools of their lives. Others enjoy the social aspects of connecting with others who use them. Others simply appreciate an enjoyable and personal writing experience. It really varies based on the individual.
Inked happiness. What is your advice to collectors of fountain pens? What does it take to make the transition from being a serious hobbyist to a collector?
Brian Goulet: I always advise people to collect for their own sake, not for investment or posterity. Fountain pens are tools as well as art, and are meant to be enjoyed. Buy whatever you enjoy, write with them, and explore deeper into a specific brand, colour, or technical design as you desire at whatever pace your time, budget, and interest allow. Fountain pens are something that should bring you joy, and the journey is the reward.
Inked happiness. What according to you are the top ten fountain pens that every lover should strive to add in his / her collection?
Brian Goulet: There is really no right answer here as I have hundreds of pens that I genuinely feel I could recommend to fountain pen enthusiasts. But I can recommend a few that come up repeatedly at different price points that tend to stand out as ones most Goulet customers are using and enjoying. Jinhao Sharks, Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari, TWSBI Eco, Diplomat Magnum, Conklin Duragraph, Lamy 2000, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, Visconti Homo Sapiens among many others.
Inked happiness. What are the major fallacies of fountain pen collection?
Brian Goulet: They don’t have to be expensive, fancy, collectable, or completing some kind of series. Buy whatever the heck makes you happy and everything else be darned.
Inked happiness. How do you rate India made fountain pens? How do they compare with those being made by European, American, Japanese or Chinese manufacturers?
Brian Goulet: I don’t have a great perspective on these as Indian fountain pens are very underrepresented in the US market. I’m sorry!
Inked happiness. What do Indian fountain pen makers need to achieve immediately to make themselves warrant your attention, recommendation even?
Brian Goulet: I honestly don’t know. Given how few are available to the US market, I would have to believe there is something related to the distribution chain that is impacting their availability where I am. I don’t know if that’s related to economic conditions like tariffs or duties fees, logistical issues like transportation or shipping carrier availability, language barriers, supply or demand, or just general lack of awareness. But given how prevalent fountain pens are in India I would have to believe there’s some kind of opportunity there.
Inked happiness. What is your advice to young people taking up the fountain pen as the main instrument of expressing their thoughts?
Brian Goulet: I’m CLEARLY one to promote them, not just because it’s my livelihood but because when I first discovered them at age 25 I knew I’d found what I’d been searching for. My best advice is to find the free educational resources you can to educate and inspire yourself, and start writing. Buy what you need (or want) to improve your writing experience as you desire, but mainly just enjoy the process. This looks different for everyone, and enjoy the journey.
Inked happiness. What needs to be done to encourage people to inculcate the habit of writing? Inspire more people to write with the fountain pen? To collect fountain pens as a hobby, to use the pen as a potent tool against the strife and stresses of life, to wield it for cathartic release?
Brian Goulet: Fountain pens are a writing “instrument” in the true nature of the word. As a musician myself, I can say that writing is like learning to play a musical instrument. The more often you practice, the better you get and the more you enjoy it. Don’t buy crazy expensive instruments thinking they’ll compensate for a lack of practice; you need to practice to get better and enjoy it. As you practice, you’ll get better and naturally enjoy it more and therefore more likely enjoy the finer aspects of more and better pens.
Inked happiness. Anything that you would like to communicate to our readers, especially to your innumerable followers here in India.
Brian Goulet: India to me is an interesting place in terms of fountain pens, as many are introduced to fountain pens at an early age in school. This used to be the case in the US decades ago, but was not my experience and isn’t that way anymore here. Because GouletPens.com sells so little to India and also sells so little Indian-made goods, the following there for our site and for me personally is somewhat unexpected. But it goes to show the reach we have with modern communication and I’m thrilled to get to learn more about Indian culture as a result.
For More information visit: https://www.gouletpens.com/