20 November 2013
Retailer Under the Spotlight - Cult Pens
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Cult Pens, a UK company that specialises in pens and writing instruments.
1. Where is Cult Pens based?
We are an on online shop, so Cult Pens lives in a cloud. Our representatives on Earth are based in Tiverton, in the rather beautiful county of Devon, in the UK. It’s a corner of the country best known as a holiday destination, which makes it a bit like living in Disneyland. There are no giant talking mice, though, unless we’ve been sniffing the permanent markers.
2. How long have they been in business?
The Cult Pens website was launched in May of 2005, so it’s over seven years old now.
3. What sort of things do you sell? Apart from pens... obviously?
Apart from pens? More pens! We have a huge range of pencils, too, both mechanical and wooden, and quite a few accessories. We have some really great ranges of notepads, notebooks and paper, along with rulers, drawing templates, lots of erasers, and glue.
One thing that sets us apart from most other pen shops is that we're just as interested in selling refills as pens. Many people come to us because they already have a pen they're very happy with, and are having trouble tracking down refills. If we stock the pen, we’ll always stock the refills if we can, in all the tip sizes and colours we can get, and we even stock refills for pens we don’t have. Even a lot of the pens people usually think of as disposable do have refills available, and using them is better for the environment and saves money.
4. Do you ever get any unusual requests... ones you can share with us.
We've been asked for pens to write on almost any surface you can imagine, and withstand all sorts of conditions. We had to suggest one customer speak to a professional when they wanted a pen they could use to restore a relative's gravestone, and we've seen cases where it was a problem that the marker ink changed colour when put in a furnace.
5. What are the most popular ranges? (Fountain pen, Gel Pens, Ballpoints etc)
That's a very difficult one for us to answer - variety is key for us! Every type of pen has its fans, and every pen is someone's favourite.
6. Do you support the notion that despite the increasing use of smart phones and tablets, the use of pen and paper is still strong? Why do you think that is?
People still find something very simple about pens and pencils, and they can be more tactile than a tablet. A pencil never makes you think about how to use it; so you can think about what you're doing, not what you're using to do it. Sometimes, we need to apply all of our brain to the task, not the tool.
Having said that, as an online retailer, we need the gadgets too. You can't order pens online using a pencil!
7. For our Filofax users what tips do you have with regards selecting pens and types of inks to use?
With all the tradition and tactility of a Filofax, the choice of pen has to be all about what feels right for each person. Some people love the flow of colourful ink from a fountain pen. Some love sharpening wooden pencils, while others find the quick click of a mechanical pencil more convenient. Love extra-fine, colourful lines? You can’t beat Pilot’s Hi-Tec-C. Want super-smooth, instant-drying, waterproof ink? Uni-ball’s Jetstream may be the perfect fit for you.
We love multipens for this sort of task - you can colour-code your notes and have different tip sizes in a single pen. Some people, though, simply want one pen that holds a lot of ink. We're all different, otherwise Filofax would only make the Personal-size Identity, and Philofaxy would be a dull place.
8. What is the best way of choosing fountain pen inks for particular brands of pens?
Generally, any fountain pen can be filled with any good quality fountain pen ink. There are manufacturers who recommend you use nothing but their own brand ink in their pens, but most fountain pen lovers cherish their inky choices, and some of the most popular inks come from manufacturers who don’t make pens at all. Diamine, right here in the UK, make some of the best fountain pen inks in the world, including our own Cult Pens Deep Dark inks. Picking from a selection of hundreds of ink types and colours is what separates us from the animals. If we only wanted black ink, we could have stayed in the ocean and borrowed some from a squid.
9. Are their differences in the formulations that make one ink more suited to a particular design of pen or not?
Almost all fountain pen inks are, essentially, coloured dye in water. The differences are relatively small, but those small differences are where many obsessions are born. Browsing the ink reviews on Fountain Pen Network should soon convince you that these small differences can be very important.
There are specific cases too, like Platinum’s Carbon Ink, which is waterproof pigment ink, and therefore needs special care to make sure it doesn't dry out in your pen. Platinum's Slip and Seal system, in their Century fountain pens, is a way around this. It uses a spring mechanism inside the cap to create a better seal over the nib, so the ink won't dry out, even if left unused for over a year.
Many calligraphy inks aren't safe to use in fountain pens at all, and can only be used with dip pens.
10. A lot of us use erasable ink pens (Frixion etc) in our organisers. What do you think will be the next exciting development in pen/ink design.
If we knew that, we wouldn't tell you until the patent had been granted!
The Frixion has been a huge step forward for erasable ink, taking it from being something you'd only use if you really needed it, to a perfectly nice thing to use all the time.
One of the interesting changes we're seeing at the moment is that the exciting stuff often happens outside the big brands. We've seen many really interesting new products and designs on sites like Kickstarter, where ordinary people fund the development of a new idea, helping to turn a design into a product.
What other information that you think will be of interest to our readers.
We add new offers and new products all the time, and you can keep up to date with these by following us on Twitter or Facebook, or checking on our What’s New and Special Offers pages.
But those things are available to everybody! You’re special people at Philofaxy, so you deserve your own special offer. So, for you, there's 10% off everything until the end of 2013, at Cultpens.com when you enter the following coupon code: FAXY2013
Thank you also for the promotion code, I'm sure some of us will be using that especially in the run up to Christmas!
Thank you Cult Pens for answering all of our questions, I'm sure we might think of some more to ask...