How does Tom manufacture the most beautiful pens in the world?
The workshop is small but it’s densely packed with tools, starting with the 60-year-old lathe where it all started. It was from his wife’s dad, an engineer who used to make little motorcycle components. There’s a secondary woodturning lathe used primarily for polishing, and a CNC machine which is important for getting them the correct weight and size and perfectly balanced in your hand.
He has sous vide water bath that is used to cure and stabilize wood at an exact temperature so that it warps less with time, making it much more durable.
There’s also a vacuum chamber used when casting resin with flowers or other ingredients to crush all the bubbles and make the final result denser.
Finally, there are different 21 different grits of sandpaper and a few other things.
While manual tools play an important role in the making process, Instagram was the channel that allowed a very niche product to find an audience, and Square Space the website and e-commerce platform that allows this to be a global business selling mainly to artists and calligraphers in the USA, England, Hong Kong, and Singapore while keeping it manageable for one family.
It’s still unclear what this business will look like in 10 years' time. Will people still write? One thing is for sure though: there’s still going to be a high-end market demanding beautiful handmade products that offer a superior user experience, and that is enough for someone not blinded by scale and profit.
His love for stationery started early on through his dad, who was a graphic designer too, and it further developed through his wife, who’s a professional calligrapher.
Tom would see her struggle with all these mediocre pens and he thought he could make something better. Already familiar with making physical products thanks to his stint with the furniture shop, he tried his hand at making a calligraphy pen using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine for making watch parts until one pen finally came out with the right balance, which his wife now uses pretty much every day.
Sustainability and provenance are two key characteristics of Tom’s making style, both in stark contrast with today’s prevailing disposable culture – over 2 billion pens end up in landfills every year in the US alone.
Creating writing instruments you will look forward to using every day and treasure for the rest of your life.