Evelina Hristozova is a post-graduate from the International School for Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam (2000-2001). Before that she completed her master-graduate in Japanese Studies from Sofia University and Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo (1994-1999). Evelina has been living and working in Italy for the last 20 years, covering various positions in the trade & marketing fields for a number of apparel and luxury brands (DIESEL, CALGARO jewellery, forte forte, Montegrappa). Currently, she is Head of Operations at Tibaldi. Here she opens up her heart in a rare one on one with Inked happiness. Excerpts:
Inked happiness: The fountain pen, to many, represent an era when flagships could be called “Pen for Men” (PFM, Sheaffer) and lines were dedicated to women, designed for “dainty” fingers and aimed at appealing “girlie” aesthetics. It is this fountain pen that you are unveiling to a “new” world with a completely fresh set of rules – how does it feel to lead and be the change?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: I think part of the answer to this question is locked up in the question itself! You mention Sheaffer’s PFM, a marketing concept and a product offer that was first presented in 1959 …a pay-off implying pens were made for men! Well, I’d like to believe and hope things have changed a bit by now, after decades of cultural and political revolutions on a global scale😊; actually, in 2020 I am not really inclined to question if pens were made or not for women too, it simply comes natural to think they were!
We should probably “blame” my mind fold as I grew up in an ex-communist country, where emancipation and gender equality were really not an issue ever since 1945. Writing, studying or having a respectful career were walks of life open to just any person with an open mind, regardless of their gender. And that was not just ideological, it did happen.
I can agree to a certain extent with you when we talk about “collectionism”. Men are more likely to collect writing instruments with respect to women. We should look for why answers deep in psychology and lifestyle I guess, and you have already explored that area yourself 😊, but as we already discussed this previously, design& communication tools are fundamental in attracting or not the right or desired public. Sheaffer themselves came about with pens for women at some point, changing colours and finishes…Not sure if their story was a success, but if it wasn’t, probably the world was not ripe enough then.
To be honest, I feel less pioneer than I am told I am. After having been introduced to the “pen world” and after several years of working and observing this particular industry, I simply thought it would be nice and welcome to fill-in certain gaps. Female offer and wider public in general are two assets that in my opinion were to be introduced and evolved.
Pens deserve more than a niche market. Their aura of specialty for “just a few” is fantastic, but I see no objective reasons why this product should not be democratised, if I can put it this way.
I don’t like calling pens writing instruments that much, to me they are writing accessories – consumer brand products that one chooses because they fit one’s taste, needs and lifestyle. Not very different from a pair of sunglasses, a scarf or a blazer. When I think pens, I do not necessarily think of fountain pens only. People should be free to decide their own calibre, let’s not impose anything. And with all that, TIBALDI does not try to “empty out” the crafted heritage inbuilt into this product, we still make our products with the highest standards known, while offering a luxury pen-a-porter at a comfort price.
And yes!, I’m excited, the road is slightly upwards but what’s wrong with risking while having fun! Do you have fun with your new Tibaldi? Do you like the new Tibaldi language, or does it only take you aback?
Inked happiness: On another level, you are spearheading the charge of a hundred-year old brand into the future – fighting as much to “re-popularise” the fountain pen to a generation who have virtually (no pun intended) given up on writing, as you are “marketing” a product. What are the challenges that you are facing? How are you winning the digital mind-space of the young with an analogue product?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: I really don’t think people have completely given up on writing!
It is clear that writing has changed in nature. It is no longer necessary to register monthly invoices and writing papers by hand, but one can still indulge in signing in great style with a special pen, taking notes on lectures, using the pen on your working desk daily, keep it in your purse, etc.
But in the first place, people should also get to know about pens, they should become more aware they exist! This product has been hidden in the folds of exclusivity for too long 😊 That is why the new TIBALDI communication is trying to get closer to people and closer to life!
Thanks God nowadays there are so many voicing tools to spread the message.
You can’t possibly imagine my personal satisfaction when I happen to see and hear from young people who send us their everyday endorsement pictures and videos on pens, sharing how happy they are to have them and use them!
USE! That’s probably the biggest of the challenges we face. I’d like to make people use their pens, not just buy and collect them in their drawers!
Inked happiness: How has your earlier experiences with brands that enjoy top-of-mind recall helping you? What are the lessons that you have learnt on the way that are coming to your aid today?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: The jewellery industry has helped a lot, because I do see the pen as a piece of jewellery. And here, I would really like to pinpoint again that I am not trying to empty the pen itself from its intrinsic value of a writing instrument. But I do see a parallel between what a jewellery piece does to the human mind, and I wish the pens had the same power!
Fashion has taught me the savoir-faire part, desire is the trigger. So, if we want for the pens to live, we have to render them desirable!
Inked happiness: From where you stand, how does the post pandemic world of fountain pens look? Do you see more young people picking up the fountain pen to give vent to their feelings? Do you see a shift, perhaps a fountain pen led protest against the digital damnation of lives? Is the fountain pen emerging as a symbol of sustainability? Of mental peace? Perhaps even a rallying point against the break-neck speed in which we are all running, often without a clue about the destination: a mute scream to slow down and enjoy the moment – to see the ink dry on the paper as one’s thoughts crystallise for eternity?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: Your questions have totally preceded my inner thoughts!
We have been recently reminded, the bad way, that not everything is under our control. So, in this thinning, post-Covid crises, it is only natural that people look for some stability, some grains of beauty, joy and pleasure. Some comfort. Call it consumerism…if you want. To us, what matters is when we talk to enthusiastic customers/ young professionals, totally passionate about their new Tibaldi pens, sending pictures and making stories on social media, willing to let us know they carry their Tibaldi pen whenever they go and whatever they do. The better part of them appreciates precisely the “new” way we are trying to speak to them, they get to recognise themselves into the product 😊 This is when I know I have got it right! I do not pretend to get it right with everybody, but if I manage to get more and younger people interested and ecstatic about pens, then I can probably call it a day! The real problem I think is that most people simply don’t realise that beautifully made and various pens exist, the industry has been polarised into the niche corner for too long.
Inked happiness: Or is the fountain pen going the Swiss watch way – becoming more as an accessory to be flaunted, rather than being an instrument to rely on?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: What’s wrong with flaunting your pen? Sooner or later you should also start writing 😊 so, isn’t it much better if your writing tool is also a pleasant token of style to watch at!?An instrument that serves your needs and brings pleasure at the same time.
Inked happiness: What are your plans for Tibaldi? Where do you see the brand in the near future?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: I see TIBALDI right in here and up the road! Spreading the message of beautiful pens to enjoy and live with!
Inked happiness: The last time Europe had a plague of such menacing proportions – Italy had responded with the Renaissance. What can the world expect this time around, especially from Italy, from the House of Tibaldi? From Montegrappa?
Evelina Hristozova, Tibaldi: I believe in the power of beauty, as humans’ soul healer. Take the word in its most holistic meaning and not just superficial connotation. Feeling good inside produces good vibes, boosts creativity, helps considerate thinking and decision-making, and hopefully good writing!
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