Born from our passion for fountain pens and great stationery alike, and the difficulty we had getting any of the cool stuff we saw overseas, we opened Write GEAR! That was 5 years ago already. The first Friday of September 2014 to be more exact. To be honest, this was completely a hobby for us then. We figured there must be at least 10 other people in South Africa that are passionate about fountain pens so why not open this store where we can all “congregate” to enjoy fountain pens together and work on getting some of the cool stuff we saw overseas to be more accessible in South Africa.
To our surprise we got an order on the very first morning of launching the site! We were super excited (and surprised) about getting an order so fast that we secretly expected to get another ten that day. Spoiler alert: our newly found predictions were far from correct. In fact I think it took almost a month and a half to get our first ten orders.
We were not discouraged by the slow start, on the contrary, we were amazed that people found our site and that people in SA were buying fountain pens from us (I still wake up everyday surprised that there are enough fountain pen enthusiasts in South Africa for us to exist).
We kept working hard at bringing great fountain pen products to South Africa and you kept on following our social media, purchasing from our online store, writing to us (handwritten snail mail! Our favourite kind of mail) and becoming friends. Write GEAR began to grow.
What started with about 30 products fitting on two bedroom shelves is now over 2000 products on many more shelves in our cool offices/shop in Woodstock, Cape Town. We expanded from fountain pens to Rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils, notebooks and a few other items. However at the core of Write GEAR is still the fountain pen.
We began with a passion for fountain pens and we still are passionate about bringing in some of the best fountain pens to SA.
We’ve decided to write a weekly series of blog posts throughout September themed around the number “5”.
On our birthday, as we remember starting as a fountain pen store, we thought it would be fitting to write on the “Five Reasons We Love Fountain Pens”. They are not in any order of importance. Here they are:
1. We LOVE stationery!
We have always loved stationery. All different stationery from Pigma Micron pigment ink liners to Fischer Space Pens, to post-it notes to crazy shaped paperclips (yes we are the kind of people that buy those type of things on eBay because we can’t get them here). And at the pinnacle of stationery sits the king of the stationery world, the fountain pen. And so our love of stationery lead us to our love for fountain pens. For me that started young when I got my first fountain pen in high school. I felt like the king of the school having a fountain pen in my space case. As the start of the new year when everyone would look at each others back to school haul I had my Parker Jotter fountain pen. I felt like my love for stationery surpassed everyone else’s in that moment.
Global warming is on the rise and our environment is taking a beating on every level. I often think what planet I am going to leave behind to my grandchildren. While we know using a fountain pen will do very little to solving the massive issues our world faces we do know that it is a bit better then throwing out cheap ballpoint pens every week. Little decisions add up. We love that fountain pens are not disposable and will last a lifetime. But it is more then just not filling up the landfills, it’s that we’ve purchased something that could possibly last more than one generation.
3. Writing Experience
We cannot write a list on why we love fountain pens and leave out the writing experience. After all, the purpose of a pen is to write/draw/doodle. There is no better writing experience than the fountain pen. The nib glides along the page; it requires no pressure to write and so no hand fatigue; the variety of nib sizes; all these add up to give a writing experience that surpasses anything from ballpoints, pencils, rollerballs, felt tip pens etc. There is no writing instrument that can compare to the fountain pen.
Some of you after reading about the writing experience might complain about the maintenance of fountain pens. And yes you would be right. Fountain pens require maintenance. Some more than others. There is the filling up of pens, flushing out ink when changing ink colours and general pen care. Then there is the potential messiness of fountain pen inks. A single drop of fountain pen ink can go a surprisingly long way when wrecking havoc on your hands, clothes, desk . . . . I mean a seriously long way. I see you nodding your head reading that.
The thing with us fountain pen fans is that we don’t see this as a downside at all. In fact it is one of the things we love about fountain pens. Or perhaps we love to hate it. We love that sometimes we have to stop what we are doing, slow down and clean out our pens, ink them up and get them ready to work again. We find it relaxing, not stressful. In fact, sometimes when I have had a particularly stressful week, I will spend some time on Saturday morning cleaning out my pens, drying them and reinking them.
There is something about the whole process that is enjoyable, intentional and relaxing. I like to think its like a master chef taking time out to sharpen their knives or a master artisan organising their tools or a surgeon arranging their instruments so that they can perform a life saving operation. Of course I am not a master of anything but for those moments of maintaining my ‘tools’ I understand the serene beauty of craftsmanship. At the end of my maintenance session I feel like I am ready to do something great with these tools. I probably won’t but I feel like I could. And that is wonderful.
Our passion for stationery does not have to do with liking cool things on our desk, although we do like that as well. Rather our deep passion for fountain pens has to do with our love for and value of creativity. There is something about a pen and a blank page that really inspires us. The thought that that blank page could end up with e=mc2 on it or the plot of the Great Gatsby, or first words of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream… ”, or Leonardo da Vinci making one of his great discoveries, or even a squiggled “I love you” letter from a preschool daughter to her father really provokes me. When did you last receive an email with anything quite as creative as any of those above?? To me the pen and page represents the potential of humankind to be creative, to innovate, to inspire and to share.
The above is probably one our favourite Instagram images from the first year of Write GEAR
We could write a book on how much we love fountain pens but if you’re reading this, I think you already know.
To our customers, I hope you know how grateful we are to all of you. Thanks for supporting us these past 5 years. Thanks for getting us to where we are today. Thanks for the friendships we’ve gained through Write GEAR and this wonderful community of fountain pen fanatics. 🙂