Starting a New Venture

Headed back to school? Want to start a new business? Want to create your own home office? We all have our reasons to hunker down and get busy. I was recently watching the first episode of the Food Network Show 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. The premise of the "reality contest" is two teams of two people face off against each other to prepare a menu, create a "front of the house" and get a fully working restaurant together in 24 short hours. The rules are explained to the contestants and the clock starts ticking. What's the first thing that happens?

Out come the notebooks and pens!

"Fail to plan, plan to fail." - old proverb

Before getting their hands dirty chopping, dicing and decorating, everything is listed, sketched and noted prior to action. This is essential when jumping into a new project or venture. There needs to be a strategy, a plan of attack that can be best laid out on paper.

Here's what you need:
  • A writing instrument
  • A surface to write on
  • Paper
  • Ideas
I would say that, based upon the project you're starting up and your own preference toward fine pens and stationery would depend on the types or brands of products that you would be reaching for in the brainstorming session. For the design oriented, focused on creating a product or website, go with a Rhodia graph notebook with at least on mechanical pencil, like the Caran d'Ache Metal collection. For the artistic, try a Moleskine sketchbook (large is a great size for scanning on a typical flatbed scanner or all-in-one) along with rollerball pen that can accept fibertip refills. The culinary inclined can make great use of a Passions Recipe Journal. Running a babysitting service? A Filofax Organizer is the tops for keeping track of all your appointments and client's requests. If you're planning on a start up company and have to fill out all those legal forms, do it with style using a fountain pen.

The most important part is to have a place to do your thinking and planning that can be your go-to escape from the rest of the world. Whether it be a desk or a part of the kitchen table, this spot has to be yours and it has to have all of your materials readily accessible so that you can get working at a moments notice to get those ideas out and on paper.

Has anyone started anything recently that they would like to share? Any particular office supplies and/or fine writing instruments assist in the creative process?


Quickest Review of Pelikan Edelstein Topaz Ink

I know most of you that read reviews and want to do your research before plunking down your hard-earned on a luxury ink will be looking at tons of other reviews of Edelstein on Fountain Pen Network and other pen blogs, so I'll make mine short and sweet.

Written review done on a Rhodia staplebound notebook with 80g paper with a Pelikan m215 fine point fountain pen. The Topaz color is rather unexpected up against the Sapphire. Smooth, soft in color, "Edelstein" is fun to say, nice shading, on the wetter side, bottle is gorgeous. Buy Edelstein Topaz at Goldspot and I will love you.


Retro 51 Harley Davidson Flathead Pen Review

Git yer motor runnin'. Retro 51 presents their licensed Harley Davidson line of pens, which are inspired by the brand's motor-head aesthetics. Don't take it for granted if you're not a fan of the motorcycle, these pens are much more than just a renown name. Take the Flathead pens for example. These compact ballpoint pens go beyond the biker appeal. The Flathead is a great take-along pen. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet has the weight of a solid writing instrument with its metal base. The push-top plunger ejects and retracts the mini D1 size ballpoint pen cartridge with a satisfying click. The rugged, hinged clip is a great feature that helps the pen clip on to thicker materials like a stack of papers or a leather jacket. Summary:
  • Writing Quality : Odd shape to that flat grip doesn't make it very ergonomic. (grade B)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The Harley licensing doesn't make this pen look cheesy. The design is actually very nice on its own without the Harley name. (grade A-)
  • Utility : Pocket sized, go anywhere type of pen. Clip is resilient and opens wide. (grade A-)
  • Price : Available for $23 on Goldspot.com and other competitor websites, the Harley Flathead is a fantastic price for a licensed pen that has great function style to boot. Great gift for the biker in the family. (grade A-)
Final Grade : A- Retro51 has been developing pens with the Harley and Disney license for well over a year now and have been leading the way for the rest of their brand with these new releases. Expect more exciting licensed Disney coming soon in the fall.


Pen Spotlight - Biodegradable Pens and the Eco-Roller

Hey Pen Folks,

Have a few blog posts to share that have videos, which I thought were really cool to watch. There should be more videos on pens around on the internet...

Everyone is looking to be more "green" and pen-makers are not an exception. Disposable ballpoint pens are still thrown in the landfills by the tons and are made of materials that do not decompose well, breaking down into toxic materials over a long period of time. Featured on the Josh Spear blog, the DBA 98 pen is specifically designed to be thrown in the compost after use. The video features a brilliant animation that clearly demonstrates the product's ecological benefits.

Speaking of ecologically-friendly, the Visconti Eco-Roller is featured on a demonstration video by Okami of her blog "Whatever : Visconti Rembrandt Followup." As you see in the video, it is a rollerball that fills like a fountain pen. Strikingly similar to the Monteverde Mega Ink Ball. Great for people who may be too intimidated by using a fountain pen because you don't have to worry about breaking the nib and having to get it repaired or replaced. The Eco Roller comes with a spare tip (as shown in the video) and additional tips can be purchased for a nominal cost of $9.95.

Update on the Pen Show at the Monmouth Mall : We're about a few weeks away and are getting very excited to put on the show for everyone. We will have brand representatives from Monteverde, Delta, Montegrappa, Aurora, OMAS, Lamy, Filofax and Yard-O-Led on hand to help you with any brand-specific questions you may have. There are going to be some Parker and Waterman door prizes like a necktie, letter opener and even a pen or two will be given away.


Conquer Technology and Get it Done

We are meant to believe that the newest technological wonder is supposed to make our lives easier and more simplified. Part of living easy is being able to do your work quicker and more effectively, so you avoid long hours at the office and unnecessary stress. Think of all the smartphone, iPad and car commercials that you see. How many of you feel as carefree and at peace as those people on the advertisement?.... Don't raise your hands all at once...

Stever Robbins, author of the future best-selling book 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, also has a podcast (which is one of my favorites to listen to), which offers bite-size tips to improve your productivity and business relationships. On a guest post about 3 secrets for doing less and working more, Stever brings up an important topic that he also writes about in his book : Conquering Technology!

If you were to imagine your version of a perfect world, would it even have half of the gizmos and gadgets that we use in our daily lives? On my "deserted island" scenario, I wouldn't bring my cellphone (there's no 3G coverage) or my laptop (only 2 hours of battery life and no internet) but I would most likely bring my fountain pen, a bottle of ink and a few dozen notebooks to document my adventures. Gee, that works anywhere, regardless if the network is down or if you're out of reception!

For us to simplify our work and our lives, Stever writes that we need to evaluate how technology works / doesn't work for us. For keeping appointments and schedules, does a Filofax or the Outlook calendar better suit you? Is it easier to manage pen & paper contacts or do it digitally through your Gmail contacts?

Stever writes about task lists, "The task list on my phone and computer is more trouble than it’s worth. I routinely ignore any tasks that had scrolled off the screen, and scrolling down the interface takes ages. I jumped ship to a to-do list on a 3x5 notepad and pencil and I’ve been blissfully happy ever since" Couldn't agree more with you there, as I have post-it notes and my own paper task manager template to keep tabs on all the actionable items attached to projects.

Next time you hear, "there's an app for that," consider the prospect of using that new, flashy application against your current techniques of organization and communication. Just because there is a new iPhone that can do your taxes for you and tell you what a handsome person you are doesn't mean that it is going to be a vast improvement over your accountant and a mirror. Yet, conquering technology doesn't mean shunning it completely. It means making it work for you, as it is supposed to do.


Moleskine Ink Samples

Since early this year, I've been compiling a sample of pens + inks that have come across my desk. Every time I have a new fountain pen combination, I'd write down the pen name and ink in my Moleskine journal. It is very true what folks say about Moleskine paper and fountain pens. Some pen & ink combinations bleed right through the page like an extra-thick Sharpie marker would. Finer points fare significantly better in this test. It is also interesting to see how the same ink shows up using a pen from a different brand nib. For example, the Parker Premier and the Edison Herald using the same Noodler's Standard Brown. The Pelikan m215 vs the Montegrappa Miya using the same Pelikan Turquoise ink is also a helpful comparison. What can you learn from this sample? Moleskine works best (and has the least bleedthrough) when you use a fine or extra-fine point and a lighter ink color (turquoise, light green or light orange). If you have a Moleskine, what pen & ink combinations work the best for you? The worst?


What's your Favorite Pen & Ink Combo?

There's an endless selection when it comes to pairing your favorite fountain pen with an ink that complements the nib. It isn't a perfect science because it also depends on your writing habits as well. Are you a small, technical writer or a quick jotter of large letters? Lefty or righty? All of these (and more) make your selection of pen & ink fairly unique. My personal favorite, so far, has been my Pelikan m215 loaded with Pelikan Turquoise. The 215 holds a tremendous amount of ink that has me writing for about a month on one tank. The smooth nib and the wet flow of the ink offers a very fine line that is hard to beat. It works great for notetaking, for writing long letters and journal entries. But, like I said, the topic is subjective. What works for me doesn't work for everyone. It is always very interesting to know what other people are writing with, as it opens doors to new ideas for pairings that you may have never thought of. So, what's yours? P.S. Our next post will have some samples of different pen & ink combos on a Moleskine notebook so you can see the difference between the various nibs and ink flow quality.


What does FREE Engraving look like?

Just wanted to update all of our subscribers that we are running a FREE Engraving promotion this weekend at Goldspot Pens. If you're looking for a personalized gift, this is a great opportunity, as we do not hold these offers for very long during the year. If you're wondering what kind of quality our engraving service produces, I can show you my own pen : Depending on the pen, we can engrave in several types of fonts and styles, including Arial, Apple Chancery, Times New Roman and English Script. Engraving service usually costs $9.50 for either a full name or a monogram. Until Sunday night at 11:59pm EST, it will be absolutely 100% free (up to five pens). We've only been running this promotion since yesterday evening and we've already received orders for wedding gifts, retirement gifts and groomsmen gifts. Personalizing a pen is a great idea for these occasions as well as for your own use. I spoke with a customer today who wanted to have her pen engraved so the people who keep stealing her pens know who they stole from, and would, hopefully, feel morally obligated to return it. If we can't engrave your pen or luxury gift, we will have our engraving department notify you. You can always call us prior to ordering at 800-963-7367 if you would like to ask if an item is a good candidate for personalization.


Back to School Season for Adults?

This is a guest post written by Brian from OfficeSupplyGeek.com, the go-to website for in-depth reviews on cool and innovative office supplies. You can also find OfficeSupplyGeek on Facebook.

Back to School shopping was always fun when I was a kid, and even today I still fondly remember the excitement of picking out new pens, pencils and notebooks. Now, as an adult when I look back at those seemingly archaic items and how excited I was about getting them, I cant help but question whether the excitement was just because of the fact that I got to have “new stuff” or were these stationery items really just that cool for the time period I was growing up in?

If I force myself to answer that question, I’d have to say that, these products really were some of the best and coolest out there, even as I sit here looking at them thinking to myself “how did I ever get by with that stuff?” Part of the reason I think these were some of the best products available is because many of them are still available in almost the same exact form today. It doesn’t take much looking around to find the Bic 4 color multi pen, the Bic stick pen with the blue cap, the Pilot Precise line of liquid ink pens or the classic Five Star notebooks with plastic covers.

Now as an adult with my school years long behind me, I get to use lots of even more cool and innovative stationery products, but I feel like something is missing. It is hard to imagine anything could be missing though when I’m lucky enough to have such awesome products like my Uniball Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil, Sharpie Pen, Lamy Studio fountain pen, and Levenger Circa notebooks to help keep me organized and performing at the highest level possible at work. So it got me thinking, what was missing?

As I contemplated what could possibly be missing from my completely lavish stash of stationery products, I realized it didn’t have anything to do with the products themselves, it had everything to do with the process of buying them and what it all meant. It dawned on me that there is no longer a ritualistic stockpiling of an arsenal of unsharpened pencils, pristine notebooks and never opened packages of pens. There is instead a slow steady accumulation of “stuff” over time on more of an as needed basis. As an adult you don’t have that “clean slate” that you start with from year to year that is signified by your new stash of supplies.

Now that I’ve realized what it is thats missing, it surprises me that none of the major office supply stores have tried to generate some sort of “Back to Work” shopping season for us adults. Now sure it would be hard to do because there is no real “season” since we all start and end our employment on different schedules, however I think I might at least try and do this for myself to instill that “clean slate” feeling for my work year. Maybe if I save the majority of my office supply shopping for January of each year I’ll have my own personal little “back to school” feeling about things. Regardless of how I go about it though, one thing is for sure, and that is that I’ll probably spend way too much money on new office supplies, and a few years from now I’ll look back at how I ever managed to get anything done with these archaic tools.


5 Reasons to Visit our Pen Show

First of all, I will apologize to our readers who will not be in the area the weekend of the pen show. We will have something special going on that weekend on the website so that you won't feel left out. For everyone that is within driving distance of the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, New Jersey, we would like to encourage you to make the trip and visit us at the Pen Trunk Show. When : Saturday & Sunday October 9th - 10th, 11am - 5pm Where : Wolf Fine Jewelers at the Monmouth Mall, Eatontown NJ --Directions-- To further entice you to bring the family & friends, we would like to offer the following reasons why you NEED to be at this show:
  • Browse the latest and greatest pens in person! With more brick-and-mortar pen retailers closing their doors, this is a rare opportunity to view an expansive collection of fine pens "in the flesh." We will allow you to dip test fountain pens to find the nib size that fits your style of writing.
  • Find amazing deals and great gifts for the holidays. Ever visit the clearance section of our website? We have a ton of special closeout items that are up to 60% off retail price. Literally, it would probably be a ton if we brought it all. If we don't have what you're looking for at the show, we will ship it to you for no charge shipping & handling.
  • Expert, knowledgeable advice from professional pen people. In addition to our Goldspot staff, we will have a few of the nicest brand representatives on hand to help with any question you may have about a Lamy, Aurora, Montegrappa, Monteverde, Delta or Conklin pen.
  • Door prizes and contributions to Susan G Komen for the Cure. We will have pen-related door prizes and giveaways for those who stop by the show. Also, in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month every sale at the show will contributed toward a donation to the Susan G Komen for the Cure foundation.
  • You get to meet us! Being an online retailer, we seldom get to see our loyal clients face-to-face. Many of you are on a first name basis with our employees and can rely on calling up and getting a helpful, familiar voice on the other end. We're as excited to meet you, so come on down!
The event is being co-hosted by Wolf Fine Jewelers, which will have their own fine jewelery and watches on display in the store. There will be something for everyone and you can make a day of it by visiting the other department stores and shops in the Monmouth Mall. The mall also has a nice food court and an attached Loews Movie Theatre. To receive updates and a special print-out coupon to bring to the event, please make sure you are signed up for our e-mail newsletter. You can RSVP to the event through the Pen Trunk Show Event created on Facebook.


Inky Mishap in a Tux

Fountain pen lovers are sure to enjoy this little story that happened last weekend at my Brother's wedding. I'm sure our readers already know how jazzed we were about the new exclusive Monteverde Formula Red pens that just arrived last week. I got one that has my named engraved (in black) on the red cap and could not resist bringing it with me for the weekend up in Jersey City for my Brother's wedding. Somehow, I already lost the converter, but wanted to fill up before I left the office so I took one of my Levenger converters I wasn't using and filled it up with Private Reserve's Burgundy Mist. After filling the pen, I'm writing with it, making sample entries in both my Moleskine and my Rhodia notebooks to record the color and how it performs in the pen. Very nice. The fine point on the fountain writes more on the extra-fine, much like my Pelikan Fine point does. I bring the pen with me and decide to include it as an accessory to my tux. I put it in the inside jacket pocket, where I had things like my index cards for the best man speech (which I wrote with the pen), directions on how to drive to the hotel, etc. The morning of the ceremony, the groomsmen and myself were downstairs at the hotel bar (what do you mean they don't serve until after noon on Sundays!?) and we got on the topic of pens. Everybody knows I work for a pen company and everyone expects me to have a pen on my person, which is partially the reason why I decided to tote a fountain pen. I take it out of my jacket pocket to let the guys take a look. Someone asks me, "is it refillable?" I say, "Of course!" I screw open the front section to reveal the converter that is loaded with Burgundy Mist. "See," I say as I flick the converter with my finger, "it fills with bottled ink." One of the fellas then points, "Dude, you've got it all over your hands!" Apparently, the connection was loose since I was not using the specific Monteverde converter that came with the pen and ink had been leaking all inside of the barrel and all over the converter. Thankfully, someone pointed it to my attention before I started to put the pen away and touch everything, which would have ruined my Joseph Abboud tux and surely would have cost me a few hundred dollars at the tux rental place. While my Brother shakes his head and gives me a stack of napkins from the bar, one of the groomsmen asks me, "aren't you supposed to be the pen expert? And you have ink all over your hands?" Ha Ha. We all had a good laugh. I'm now wondering if the photographer caught that I had an inky hand. We shall see.


Pelikan Edelstein Inks

Pelikan has gotten into the high-end ink market with a splash. Wait! Before you pull your credit cards out in haste, the bottles have not even landed in the US yet. Edelstein (pronounced A-del-shtine) is a series of premium Pelikan inks, beautifully presented in glass bottles. With sleek presentation like this, you can't go wrong, right? Don't let the packaging and marketing fool you. Pelikan has been one of my favorite inks that work consistently across all of my fountain pens. Many people would agree with me on that as well. Just because this ink looks snazzy and oozes luxury, its not putting lipstick on a pig, so to speak. I would wager that this ink is a significant degree better than the regular 4001 series of Pelikan fountain pen ink and well worth the money. At the very least, you have a handsome piece of desk art. Chartpak, Pelikan's US distributor, has informed us that the bottles should be in momentarily, that they should have been in from Germany a week ago already. We have had the same issue with the new Pelikan m800 Blue 'O Blue, which was announced as available almost a month ago, yet we still have not seen the first shipment we ordered. If anyone has ordered any of the new Pelikan products, we will update you via e-mail on the status as we receive more information.


Pen Spotlight - Carnivals and Movies

It's the beginning of the month and you know what that means... Besides the rent/mortgage being due, the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is debuts this week over at OfficeSupplyGeek (in rhyming fashion). Note Booker, Esq did a fine job reviewing the Monteverde Invincia Stealth fountain pen. To show the rich black color of the Stealth (which also happens to be the pen pictured on the left that OfficeSupplyGeek uses), he took several pictures of the pen versus some "black" objects to show the contrast. He even took a picture of the pen on top of his cat. I love a review that is not only thorough, but humorous. Lady Dandelion has got some of the nicest looking photos of all the fine writing blogs out there. The review on the Lamy 1.1mm italic Safari is no exception. If you love Safari fountain pens, check out the italic nibs for a change. Lastly, but not leastly, Nancy Olson spotted a promotion graphic of the new Retro 51, Disney licensed Tron pen that is coming out next month in conjunction with the movie release. Retro 51 really struck gold with their licensed pens. Their Harley and Mickey Mouse lines have been leading the way for their brand the last year or so. Would not be surprised to see more editions that are inspired by Disney movies to be released by Retro in the future.


Formula Red Facebook Giveaway

We are officially celebrating the crossing of the 500-fan threshold on our Goldspot Facebook Fan Page with a giveaway and a discount! The prize will be one (1) of our new, exclusive Monteverde Formula Red ballpoint pens (Retail Value $80). We will randomly select one of our Facebook Fans on Tuesday, September 7th (in observance of Labor Day). We will announce our selection and contact the fan directly for a shipping address. So, if you're not already a fan of Goldspot on facebook, here is where to find us : http://www.facebook.com/GoldspotPens For a special Labor Day Discount, please use promo code FALL10 during check out to get FREE UPS shipping for orders of $75 or more (US shipping addresses only). Our free shipping is done through UPS so we can still provide fast, insured and traceable shipping to our customers. This is a limited-time offer that will expire soon. Good luck and have a great Labor Day Weekend!


Monteverde Invincia Formula Red Carbon Fiber Exclusive Edition

Our second big announcement in the last two weeks is the arrival of our very own, Goldspot Exclusive edition of the Monteverde Invincia. Called Formula Red, this red / black design is inspired by high-octane performance racing and sports cars. Available in twist-action ballpoint, rollerball with cap and fountain pen that is fitted with a black, stainless steel nib in fine, medium or broad widths. The pen is packaged in a deluxe Monteverde gift box, accompanied with the pen refill (fountain pen has package of ink cartridges plus a converter). The outer sleeve is a custom design black and red box that is exclusive only to this series. Above is an extra shot taken from today's impromptu photo shoot. You can expect the same level of high quality that you've come to know from Monteverde. The regular Invincia collection is their runaway best seller and most popular pen offered by the company. The shape is a classic, Italian-inspired design that is well balanced while offering a nice weight in-hand. Our first shipment is in-stock, but very limited. Formula Red Exclusive Edition on sale Carbon Fiber Ballpoint Pen $71.95 Carbon Fiber Rollerball Pen $80.95 Carbon Fiber Fountain Pen $89.95