01 March 2015

Guest Post: Visit to the Gillio Boutique in Brussels - Lewis

Thank you Lewis for your Guest Post. 

Just as a brief introduction, my name is Lewis and I am a bit of a planner geek - which is why I feel right at home here at Philofaxy!  I’m blessed to own a few different model planners but at Christmas 2014, whilst admittedly under the influence of one or two Christmas ales, decided to treat myself to a Compagna.  I was amazed by the quality when it arrived.  My wife turned 30 in January and as part of her birthday present I booked a short break away in Brussels.  As she is a teacher it had to be in the holidays so we visited Brussels in Half term in February.  It hadn’t occurred to me at the time that Gillio have a boutique there, but I couldn’t resist a visit whilst we were there.

I was in dialogue with Tom at Gillio shortly after my Compagna purchase and mentioned that I’d like to visit them whilst in Brussels.  Being the lovely people that they are, they were only too willing to oblige.  I supplied them with the dates of my trip and they assured me someone would be available to meet me.   Whilst at Ebbsfleet International station about to board the Eurostar to Brussels, I had a telephone call from Paul at Gillio to ask which date I’d prefer to come.  We agreed a convenient date and he duly invited me and my wife to pop in.  Of course a trip to the Gillio boutique was never going to be a ‘pop in’ visit but there we are!

My wife and I arrived at the shop and I introduced myself.  Paul was with a customer at the time who happened to have a leather bag that she purchased some 15 years ago, just having the strap re strung.  She was telling me how pleased she was with the product and Paul had to reassure me that this wasn’t staged for my benefit!  A great example of the longevity of their products.  Whilst he was helping her he suggested my wife and I go next door to the coffee shop and that he’d join us.  After 5 minutes he came over and we started discussing the history of the company and their philosophy.  One aspect that really resonated with me was the drive and ambition of the family to produce the best leather products on the market.  Paul was incredibly proud of this goal and I think it’s fair to say that Gillio have certainly achieved this.  We discussed the fact that Gillio used to sell some leather products of a, lets say, well known German brand.  Customers would come in to buy one of these German products only be be immediately converted to the quality, durability and of course design of Gillio’s own products and walk out with the Gillio.  Another story I loved was how Paul contacted a famous US based planning company and discussed a combined Gillio planner combining great leather with a great planning system.  I’d love to see one of those products hit the market!

We went back into the store and I tried not to leave too many finger prints on the display glass (!) but its fair to say I was able to examine many of their products.  I couldn’t believe how soft the Croco leather really was to hold.  I also experienced why the A5 Mia Cara is so popular.  I examined this Mia Cara and I felt like I was examining a piece of art.  This thing is truly a stunning binder.  I don’t think I’ll make it to summer before I own one!  

Of course Gillio products aren’t limited to planners and there were many items on display including pens and other leather products

Here are the goodies that my wife and I purchased whilst there, which included an A5 black and orange writing pad, a keyring, some inserts (a gift for David Popely!) and a bracelet.  The guys at Gillio are so passionate about the bond between them and their customers that Paul insisted on gifting me an Intelligent Mini Wallet and the Keyring.  Paul was happy that I share that information as well.  I should also add and again thank him for the coffee mentioned earlier, he wouldn’t allow us to pay for that either!  My Gold Companga wanted to be in its own family photo!

As the trip was of course for my beautiful wife Nadine to celebrate her birthday, I couldn’t spend all day there, so our visit came to an end.  Paul suggested we get a ‘family photo!’ and the owner of a neighbouring business took our photo.

I have to also add that Brussels is truly a wonderful city and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, particularly to the Louise/Louiza area where shopaholics will be at home.  It also helps that you can fuel your day with breakfasts like these

Paul really did go out of his way to ensure our experience of Gillio was one to remember and I truly will.  In a day of call centres and budget cuts it really is spectacular when we experience service like this.  Gillio’s customer service is as good as their products.  If you haven’t experienced either, I highly recommend both.

Thank you Lewis, I'm looking forward to my visit to see the shop and the family later on this month even more now!


  1. Hi Lewis. Sounds like you both had a great time (although of course I already know that from our private exchanges!) - and thank you so much for the inserts. The quality and also the thought which have gone into the design are outstanding. I'm definitely going to be using them as my 'go to' inserts in the Malden, even though (as you already know) I'm experimenting with A5 as well, once again!

    Gillio really do know something about customer service, don't they......and like you, I'll be surprised if you don't own a Mia Cara very soon!

  2. Very nice post! I own a Mia Cara personal and a Compagna. I prefer the Mia. Don't know why, it is the way it feels and looks! Forward to see the Mia that you will buy :).

    1. I think the beauty of the Mia is that you can carry quite a bit more than just your planner in the extra pockets, yet have the versatility of whipping the planner section out and taking that when you're on the go. It's such a well designed planner. The A5 is just calling me everytime I look at that photograph. I do have a bonus from work coming up in the next couple of months so maybe, just maybe....

  3. Enjoyed your post, thank you! I also have a gold medium Compagna. It is a couple of years old and has acquired quite a nice, rich patina. Thanks for sharing your photos, too. I hope your wife had an enjoyable birthday~

    1. Thanks Valerie. My Compagna arrived at Christmas so probably hasn't aged as well as yours. I can only imagine how well it must look after a couple of years of regular use. I really like the look of Tom's in the 'scratch test' video on YouTube. My wife had a lovely birthday, thank you.

  4. Great article! It makes me want to book a flight to Brussels and of course, visit the Gillio store.