10 November 2013

Reader Under The Spotlight - Mary Anne

Hi! I am Mary Anne Moll. I am a wife, a mother, and a writer with three published books to my name. I write both fiction and non-fiction work. In my day job I am a publication editor and a publication designer, and I am part of my office’s brand management team. I also do freelance writing, editorial services, and design work. I also design stationery and have just recently started my own range of planner inserts.

Paper has always been and will remain to be my favorite medium. I always write my first drafts by hand. I use fountain pens heavily, for all my writing and editorial work, and for my journal writing as well. I have over 20 different fountain pens and I have 37 different bottles (and counting) of fountain pen ink. I also still use a typewriter for writing letters. Paper will always be an important part of my life.

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

I bought my first Filofax in July 2013. It’s an Aqua Saffiano in personal size. We no longer have Filofaxes in the Philippines at all, and I had to order mine online, from Writeathome.

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

Aside from the Filofax, I am also using a compact-sized zipped Franklin Covey in burgundy leather with 1.75 inch rings, which I bought used off eBay. This functions as my main binder for now. I also have another Franklin Covey with 1.25 inch rings, in simulated leather, and without a closure.

I also currently have the Midori Traveler’s Notebook regular-sized, in brown. I used this as my organizer before I switched to the ring-bound system. I loved the Midori, especially the paper in its refills, which can take in all kinds of fountain pen inks written in an assortment of nibs without feathering or bleed-through. As I am a fountain pen user, that is important to me. Now the Midori functions as my journal and prayerbook.

In my life so far, I have also used other organizers, mostly no-name ones that I purchased locally, back in the nineties, when I was fresh out of college. Back then, local office supply stores did carry Filofaxes, but they were out of my price range, because my first couple of jobs did not pay very well, so I just purchased the much cheaper faux leather ones.

In high school, I used my Trapper Keeper as a giant organizer. It’s a three-ring binder that can take both Letter-sized and A4-sized paper simultaneously, and in it I kept my class schedules and school calendar, reminders, and notes. I had the clear zip pocket for it in which I kept my pens and paper clips and what-not. My notebooks for my subjects were in loose-leaf, and that’s when I began to love the loose-leaf ring-bound system. I based my entire notebook system on this loose-leaf system. My notebooks per class were in letter-sized loose-leaf pages, with the page number hand-written on the lower outside corners of every page. These pages were kept in folders, using one folder for each subject. I kept the current notebook pages for the day in my Trapper Keeper, and at night, during my study hour at home, I would transfer the current pages to the main notebook. Since the notebooks get hefty after time, I bound them using Chicago screws.

This system stayed with me all throughout college and graduate school. These notebooks have since been hard-bound into tomes, because I still refer to them from time to time. This cemented my love for the reliability of ring-bound notebook-and-planner-systems.

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

My current favorite would be the personal-sized one. Right now I’m on the compact-sized Franklin Covey with 1.75 inch rings, because it’s my EIOB (Everything in One Book). I’m such a scatterbrain and having more than one binder would just add to the mental chaos.

I also really love the personal-sized vintage Savannah that Janet Carr sent me to use for my budgeting project for This Bug’s Life’s Filofax Project. The leather and workmanship is superb.

I find that the personal is the perfect size for me. I have always worked with larger sheets, and I am used to larger sheets. (Being a writer, and I am used to working with the proverbial -- and literal -- stacks of paper.) But I feel that the personal size is not only more portable, it also gives me the freedom to break apart certain sections more freely. Whenever I thin down the contents of the binder as I see fit, I also enjoy the benefit of smaller binder. I can’t do that with, say, an A5. With an A5, no matter how slim I pare down my pages to be, I will always be stuck with taller and wider pages inside a taller and wider binder.

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

I own two Filofaxes: The personal-sized Aqua Saffiano and the personal-sized Savannah from Janet Carr.

5. What is the oldest Filofax in your collection?

That would be the Savannah, because it has been with Janet since the eighties.

6. What do you use your Filofax for?

I use the Savannah as a binder for my money envelopes, which I am using and blogging about on Janet Carr’s Filofax Project on her blog, This Bug’s Life. I really like how I set it up, because I used ivory paper for the envelopes, which really brings out the gorgeous brown ostrich print calf leather of the Savannah.

The Saffiano is my standby wallet. My setup in the Franklin Covey allows me to take out the four “core sections” (composed of my cards and IDs, my cash envelope, some blank note paper, and a few days’ worth of my calendar pages) and transfer them to a slimmer binder when the occasion allows it, such as when I need to be somewhere formal and am not required to do any work, or if I am going away with my husband for one of those get-away-from-it-all weekends. I use the Saffiano for that.

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

The ability to place scraps of paper with important or relevant information on them on the rings! I almost never throw anything away, and I don’t like using pockets (like what I had with the Midori), so I tend to hole-punch everything, and place them on the rings. All important reminders for the day get hole-punched and then placed right into the relevant days of my calendar pages. All receipts, medical prescriptions, warranties, labels of stuff that I have to restock, and other things, also get hole punched and then placed into the pertinent sections. It places everything in context, and I have achieved that with the ring-bound system like the Filofax.

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

Large rings! Aside from being a member of the Philofaxy community, I am also a member of the 1.75 Inch Rings Adoration Group. (But that’s just a name I made up, of course). The modern lifestyle, in which technology allows us to deal with and accomplish more things simultaneously in a less physical way, calls out for larger rings in organizers. People just have more to deal with these days, as compared with the 1930’s and 1940’s. People have day jobs and weekend jobs and university and children and spouses and finances and many other things to juggle all at the same time, and paper needs in support of these activities has also expanded. It just makes sense for ring size to evolve. And based on my experience and observation, despite the upsurge in digital planning, people still gravitate to paper planners more often than not.

9. How do you carry your Filofax?

If I am using my Saffiano it means that I am either on a weekend, holiday, or a formal event, so it would be carried in a tote, a satchel, or a handbag, whichever is appropriate to the occasion. I don’t have a lot of bags -- I’m not a bag girl -- but my favorite go-bag is a leather tote I have had for eight years, made by a Filipino leather company called Our Tribe. It’s my regular daily bag and I also use it on weekends. It had taken a lot of abuse over the years and it’s as gorgeous as ever.

I also have this favorite satchel in heavenly burgundy leather, made by a Filipino luxury leather manufacturer named Fino. and that’s what I use on an easy evening out with my husband and our friends.

I don’t carry the Savannah out of the house. It contains cash that has been allocated from my weekly pay check from my day job. I just take money out of it when I am scheduled to pay for something. Sometimes I take out a specific envelope inside it (such as the envelope for groceries), and put that inside the rings of my main binder, to distinguish it as a spendable for that particular expense that is separate from my main money envelope, and then put it back into the Savannah when I’m done.

10. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

The Osterley looks lovely, and it’s definitely on my wish list in the black compact size. This would be wonderful as a binder for my core sections. The Original in patent black also looks good, and although I have heard that it’s not so “stuffable,” I believe it can still handle my core sections, so that’s being considered, too. Also on my wish list is the Charleston in either a deep red color, or the brown. I cannot purchase them at the moment, but I definitely will buy them someday.

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

That would be the personal-sized Aqua Saffiano, since it’s the only Filofax I have actually bought for now. I did place a bid a couple of months ago on a vintage Filofax, for about 70 US dollars, but I was outbid. That sort of set the benchmark for me for how high I am willing to go for a vintage Filofax.

12. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?

If I need to place envelopes on the rings to use as a pocket or a catch-all, I hole punch them on the side that has the flap. This is so that the flap will automatically close when the envelope is turned, and prevents the contents from accidentally falling out. It also keeps the Filofax’s fore-edge clean, and free from flapping strips of paper.

13. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

The wealth of information! When I was deliberating on my Filofax purchase, I scoured Philofaxy for reviews, pictures, comparisons, insights, setups, and downloadable printables. It was -- and still is -- my window to the world of planning.

14. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

Let me think. Hmm. I’m coming up with nothing!

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

This Old Heart (Is Weak For You) by The Isley Brothers. I think Motown music is adorable.

16. Mark Darcy or Daniel Cleaver? 

Mark Darcy, hands down.

Thank you Mary Anne for your contribution to Reader Under The Spotlight. 


  1. Thank-You Mary Anne,for that very interesting interview.And Thank-You Philofaxy team for all you do. I agree,If I didn't have my Filofax,I would be in a most terrible mess. It has everything inside its covers. A woman may have her life inside a handbag,well I have mine inside my Filofax. I remember reading (in our Local paper) about a Lady who had her Filofax stolen,She was Heartbroken,she literally (like many of us) Had all her most important information,photo's passwords etc in it. And when It was stolen,she lost literally everything. I never did find out whether she was reunited with her Filofax or not. It's something we all can understand. A filofax truly is a way of life. Long may it continue.

  2. Extremely interesting interview Maryanne - I loved your money envelopes! I am not actually sure how old the Savannah model is as I that as new old stock fairly recently. Someone else may be able to help date it but I think it is probably maximum 10 years old.

    It is a pity that Filofax is so hard to find in some countries.

  3. Hi Mary Anne,

    very nice to meet you here! I love your hack with the envelopes.

    And if I understand it correctly, you live in the Philippines - I hope you are safe and sound!


    1. Hi there,
      It was lovely to read you post. The news has been awful about the typhoon in The Phillipines. I pray that you and your loved ones are safe and sound. Love and hugs your way from me here in the UK.... at the end of the day the ones we love, our friends and family are the most important treasures in the world. xx

  4. Really enjoyed the interview Mary Anne! I must google those purse brands :)


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