Divine Island Design, LLC is a local business in Big Pine Key, Florida that was started in 2017. We specialize in custom, handmade projects from woods and resins. My name is Braxton and I am the owner. My wife is Erica and she designs island themed resin art and jewellery. Our son, Ryne, does the majority of our resin casts for our pens. He also creates his own stunning rings. Ryne’s girlfriend, Alex, is our newest member of the team and creates some beautiful jewellery our of various materials.
The Florida Keys was our paradise for over 10 years as we vacationed in the Marathon area. In February 2016, we moved from Columbus, Ohio to Big Pine Key. We left our home, family and Erica left her job as a microbiologist to move to paradise.
We knew God had a plan for our family because we were provided for during the transition. Braxton continued to work as a project manager in telecom. Erica had a job in banking before moving to the construction industry. However, there was something still incomplete in our lives. That is what lead us to start Divine Island Design.
We used Braxton’s hobby of woodworking and pen turning and Erica’s hobby of socializing as the building blocks for the Divine Island Design. With almost 20 years of experience, we use our talents and share them with the rest of the Florida Keys. All our beautiful projects and Erica’s skill for networking has allowed us to start our dream business.
Two years later, we expanded the business to include Divine Pigments, jewellery, ornaments, and our first full time employee, our son! We sell throughout the US and internationally. God is good and we can’t wait to see where we are in a few more years! Thank you to all our loyal customers, friends and turning buddies.
Here’s a big “Hi” from all of us to the readers of Inked Happiness:
Inked Happiness: Your website is poetic: “We left our home, family and Erica left her job as a microbiologist to move to paradise” – was the move to paradise a precondition for adding the divinity to the Divine Pens? Or was it more of God’s ordain that saw the pieces falling in place?
Braxton, Divine Island Design: The “Divine” in our name comes from how we ended up here in paradise. We feel God had His hands in things when we moved here to the Florida Keys. Things happened very quick when we made the decision to move here. Our house in Ohio went into contract and we were closing in 3 weeks! We did not have time to fly down to look at houses, so we relied heavily on our realtor to help us. There was not a lot on the market that met our needs and was in our budget, then a couple days later a house came on the market that fit our needs. Our realtor went and looked for us and gave us a virtual tour of the home. It had what we needed and was right in budget, so we put in an offer which was accepted. So, in a 3 week span we packed up everything we had into our car, truck and two 20ft Uhaul trucks and then 6 of us took a 3-day caravan to move down here. We did not get to physically see our house for the first time in the morning of our closing. Everything literally fell into place. When we decided to start our business down here, we wanted something that had special meaning to it and came up with “Divine Island Design”. Divine from the part God played in getting us here. Island because that is what we live on. Design because we do so many different things.
Inked Happiness: What according to you, is so special about Divine Pens? How do you justify their huge popularity, the run-away success of the brand?
Braxton, Divine Island Design: I think what sets our pens apart from others out there is the material choices we use in the pens. We cast our own urethane resin blanks that we use in a lot of the pens. With over 250 resin colour mixes at my disposal, I can come up with some incredibly unique colour combinations. I also have a knack for feel and design. I have been turning pens for almost 20 years and while most of those years were pens that use kit components, I think that allowed me to get a feel for what people liked in a pen. I took that knowledge and information and applied it to my own pen designs. I do not know that we are hugely popular…yet! We are getting our name out there and I will not sell myself short, I want to be one of the top pen makers in the world which is a very tall task because there are some great ones out there. Our colour choices, comfort and usability are what I aim all my pens to have. I want them to be a functional piece of art and that is what I feel I was able to accomplish with our new series, The Key West Collection.
Inked Happiness: All Divine Pens are so delightfully bright – eye candies celebrating life as it were, kind of Paradise before the serpent, Apple even. Aren’t there shades of grey, muted, more down to Earth, human offerings?
Braxton, Divine Island Design: Yes, most of our pens are fun and bright and that stems from where we live. We can certainly make pens that offer softer, down to earth tones. Since we make our own resin, the sky is the limit on the colours we can make for a pen. I am working on a design now that will hopefully become more of our staple style and be an offering as an everyday carry pen then say our pens the Key West Collection. It will have some metal components, but the plan is to offer it with solid colour bodies and caps that looks and functions like a true EDC pen. We will certainly have more subtle tones with this new series. One of the other things I like to do from time to time, is still make pens using wood. As much as I enjoy all the colours in our pens, it is still hard to beat the natural look of a wood pen. The grains and colours in the wood can be just as amazing as the resins we use.
Inked Happiness: As a family run, boutique pen maker, what are the major challenges before Divine Pens? How has the pandemic and the lockdown that followed affected you?
Braxton, Divine Island Design: Like most small businesses, the pandemic has been a big stumbling block in our success over the last year. We opened a storefront in May 2020 here on our island to showcase and sell all the different products we offer. When we signed on to do the store, the pandemic was just starting, and we had no idea that it would become what it has. Talk about difficult, try opening a store in the middle of a pandemic and on an island where the number one revenue generator is tourism! To say this last year has been a challenge would be an understatement. Thank goodness we already had an online presence for our pen turning supplies that helped keep us afloat for a few months. We still are not out of the woods yet, but I think we and everyone impacted are starting to see a glimmer of hope for the future.
Inked Happiness: What are your plans for the future? Do you see fountain pens making a comeback with more and more people, especially the young picking them up to express themselves?
Braxton, Divine Island Design: Oh, I think fountain pens are making a comeback. I get older folks that come into our store and see my fountain pens and get all happy, “I haven’t used one of these since high school!” or something like that is what I usually hear. The younger generations think they are something cool and different, and for most it is something they have never seen before. As for our future, hopefully continue making pens. Only God knows our future, so we just try to follow His path and plans for us. Our focus is to keep the store going to get through this craziness of the pandemic. I do have a lot of pen ideas that I think will be really cool to see come to fruition. I like to make my pens out of some unique materials that really create some incredible pens. The pen made from Corvette fordite is one of my absolute favourites that I have made so expect to see a lot more one-off stuff like that. We are also looking at doing some combination series that involve my pens, my wife’s resin art, Alex’s jewellery, and my son’s rings. Almost like a bespoke subscription box but we will see.
Inked Happiness: Anything that you would like to communicate to our readers.
Braxton, Divine Island Design: Give us, and all the smaller pen makers, a chance. I know fountain pen people can be particular about certain brands, but the pens we make are very functional and most of the times a lot better made.
For More information: https://divineislanddesign.com/