18 February 2013

Reader Under the Spotlight - Kariné

Today I would like to introduce you to Kariné.....

Originally from Bucharest, Romania, Writing + Language Specialist,  Kariné Tovmassian is a product of the Southern California Armenian School system. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Honours English and Foreign Languages & Literatures from California State University, Northridge (USA) and her Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (USA).

She serves as a creative consultant to governments, agencies and various private companies, advocating the use of simple language, advising on creative + efficient project management techniques and facilitating workshops on resume writing for the U.S. Department of Labour. She writes stories that showcase lifestyle design, the intricacies of planning  and the quirky, whimsical nature of human beings. For more information on Karine’s writing, to view a selection of her other publications or find out about setting an appointment with her please visit her writing company on-line at www.ThinkerExtraordinaire.com. To participate with her in daily banter, visit her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

1. When did you buy your first Filofax and what was it?

November 20, 2012, Apex A5 in Fuchsia; purchased on-line in Fairbanks, Alaska. I paid a whopping $36.00 for it. On sale at the Filofax website.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

Previously, I  tried, unsuccessfully, to fit my creative lifestyle into the Franklin Covey planner. I even attended one of their workshops showcasing the "Covey" system. In fact, I still have one of their old leather binders and keep it simply because my mother was good enough to sew the loose bits back into shape. It has sentimental value to me now and I just cannot find quality FC planners any more. The planners and paper inserts they produce now are atrocious. I don't understand why they've dropped their standards and raised their prices. I've also tried the Mulberry planner, similar in size to the Filofax A5 (Congo) but couldn't get enough inserts to appease my need to sort the various portions of my life.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

I really favor the Apex A5. I did have a good look-see through all the Filofax models and wanted to have the sort I wouldn't mind throwing in the passenger seat of my car, or plop on a table in a tea house without worrying about scuffs, marks, dents or other mishaps. I was looking for aesthetics and form. The Apex makes full use of the Bauhaus philosophy of form following function. Also, I love the bright and happy fuchsia colour with the accented yellow, elasticated band. I rarely use the band because I am worried about wearing it out. See what I mean about worrying about nicks and scuffs? I wish my Apex had more pockets though and didn't skimp on the inside cover texture.

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

Three. The Apex A5, a stunning, red Chameleon A5, which serves as my project management center for my writing projects and a red pocket Chameleon which serves as my wallet. I am contemplating making the switch over into the Slimline series for wallets, but I don't know where I would put my loose change.

5. What is the oldest Filofax in your collection?

The wee Apex A5-it's just a few months old but I feel as though we've been friends forever.

6. What do you use your Filofax for?

I find the Filofax-ability of Filofax planners to be a better medium than FC for documenting, tracking and maintaining the various parts of my life which, in my A5 Apex include: menu planning, grocery shopping, keeping my appointments together, to-dos, a contact list of my clientèle, running lists for Christmas cards, household inventory, eBay items for sale, daily, weekly, monthly and annual cleaning schedule for our house, birthdays, beauty regimen, airline and hotel travel points, rewards cards and travel/work calendars. I also have a zip envelope of pens that travels along to colour-code my calendars.

The pocket Chameleon holds credit cards, folding money, coins, IDs, Square Credit Card Reader, thumb drive, business cards, post-it notes + flags, and a Caran D'ache fountain pen (blue-black ink).

The A5 Chameleon holds all the chapter headings to projects I am currently developing.

7. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

Its adaptability to the user's needs; Filofax is brilliantly user-friendly.  Before meeting Filofax, I would NEVER have thought of using a planning system as a wallet. The various inserts, colors and design models allow for a modular system that works within my life, as opposed to to other systems where I feel I must chop of and delineate bits of my life in order to have some of it fit, awkwardly at best, into other planning systems. If planning systems could be compared to computing systems, Filofax would be the Apple of planners.

8. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

I would LOVE to be on Filofax's planning and design team. There are hundreds of lost and abused planners out there that need a good home and people don't know what to do with them. I would de-construct the Filofax into a truly modular system (something they are attempting now with the Flex system) and allow customers to send in their old planners, regardless of brand, retrofitting them with Filofax ring systems. I would allow current Filofax users to choose bigger or smaller ring conversions for the models they want to build and customize. The Apex model, as you can tell, is my favourite model because its texture, durability, color, form and function; it also has great flatability in case anyone was wondering (even on aeroplanes). I would redesign the interior to make it more pocket  and texture friendly.

9. How do you carry your Filofax?

When I'm home, by hand. While traveling, I use a vintage Louis Vuitton Randonnee GM (Grand Model).

10. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?
I adore the Apex, but the corners are already showing wear.  Leather lends itself to a greater value-added in other models. I cannot, for example, see myself using a pocket Apex. I love the vintage leather models that people unload on eBay. Often they don't know or include the type or model name. I probably won't buy another Filofax for quite some time, not because they are not beautiful and lend themselves to be collected but because I am a firm believer in the "You have one life. Thus, you need only one planner." I know there are people of both sides of this statement, arguing about their work life being separate from their private life, but I am a purist where calendars are concerned. Certainly, one can have multiple calendars in a planning system. So, I hold fast to the one planning system per life. My second Filofax simply serves as a Project Management centre for all my writing projects. It is, at best, an extended notebook. I never plan in the second Filofax.

11. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?

$50.00 on the Chameleon A5-gotta love eBay.

12. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?
As an editor, writer and workshop facilitator I often travel to my clients' locations and need my mobile office to be as compact as possible. Because I accept credit card payments and need to invoice clients on the spot, I use the small zip pocket envelope as a keeper for my Square Credit Card Reader in my pocket Chameleon wallet, along with the USB thumb-drive for my Quickbooks account and safe haven for earrings that need to be swapped out.
13. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

I love the creative collective value of the community and how passionately they relay their stories with saint-like patience, going over every custom detail, as if their lives depended on it. After ordering my first Filofax and becoming a community member, I can now understand the painstaking process of setting up a Filofax for the first time or refreshing it to best suit one's needs.

There is a huge stigma in our societies for people that lead cluttered lives and to those whom organization is not a sixth sense. The simple awareness of wanting to lead a more pulled-together life is reason enough to celebrate. However, at Philofaxy, life seems to be absolutely cherished through active members who encourage planning, breaking down the processes of setting up a functional planners and not judging those who've no clue what a planner is and how to go about setting one up for the first time.

14. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

I find the set up confusing. I often ask questions and am referred to page within Philofaxy that I would have seen but is somehow hidden from view. I would appreciate a filofax-like tab reference section! I also would like to see photos of Filofaxes that are for sale in the Adspot portion. The written word only goes so far.

15. What was the last music track you downloaded or bought?

Colin Hay, "Man At Work." Brilliant company to keep whilst planning!

16.  Mark Darcy or Daniel Cleaver?

Sergeant First Class, Robert Tovmassian. He puts Mark Darcy to shame.

Thank you Kariné for agreeing to appear under our spot light. If anyone else would like to be featured then please contact philofaxy at gmail dot com


  1. The Apex makes full use of the Bauhaus Philosophy? And here was me thinking it was a merely hideous piece of pink plastic. I am so ignorant. Maybe those London meet ups need to take place in the bookshop of the Tate not in the restaurant behind it :)

    I love the concept of cherishing your life through your planner too. Thats a good philosophy to think about when using them and devising dividers: how can my generic planner be made to reflect my love of my individual life?

    1. Lovely profile. As an unemployed professional, I may just contact Karine's company to look over my resume! I too believe in the "you have one life" attitude, and have been at war with myself with all the Filofaxes I have collected. However, today was a delight as my belated Valentines Day gift just arrived - A red lizard skin personal Filofax. As a user of Filofax since the late 80's I feel I just reached the pinnacle of my Filofax life with this gorgeous beauty... as I would never spend this amount of $ on a filo!

  2. I have to admit I am not a fan of the Apex so I really loved that you posted so positively about them. The next time I look at one I may do so in a different way. It is nice to know that someone out there really likes them. Thank you!

    1. I was thinking the same thing. While not a binder I would choose, it's refreshing to read about someone's love for the apex since they're not that popular here on Philofaxy. A friend of mine has the personal size and just loves it.

  3. Lovely to meet you & I'm glad you're enjoying your Apex :)
    I'm not buying any more binders, but I do think that the fuchsia is the colour I would choose if I was considering one.