Gift Focus inc Attire Accessories - March/April 2024

37 PROFILE PAPER A chance meeting inspired the launch of father and daughter business, Studio Pens. Since then the company has been on an upwards trajectory as a key distributor in the industry Pen to When did you start up and why? Studio Pens is a father and daughter business. Ian has a background in manufacturing and has been in the pen business for many years. Nikki’s background is in marketing. Ian became involved in the pen world quite late in his career, as the result of a chance meeting in 1999 with George Kartsotis, the founder of US pen brand Retro 51. Ian served his apprenticeship in the writing equipment business as the Retro 51 and Schmidt Technology UK distributor for ten years, and we remain Schmidt’s UK distributor to this day. In 2009, Ian met Michael Gutberlet of Kaweco at Paperworld and subsequently became their UK distributor. The business flourished. Nikki, his eldest daughter, joined Ian in 2015, fulfilling a lifelong ambition of Ian’s to build a family business. Esterbrook was added to our brand offering in 2020. What prompted you to launch the business? The launch of Studio Pens was really just a case of the right opportunity coming along at the right time. A chance meeting at a trade show gave Ian the initial introduction to the pen business, but it wasn’t until Ian saw the Kaweco range on display at Paperworld that his fate was sealed. He knew straight away that this was a special brand, and he hasn’t looked back! What challenges have you overcome since the company’s launch? As a distributor, your stock holding is the key to success. A key challenge has been to allow the business to expand sufficiently to meet the demand of a growing customer base without having to resort to external funding. On the flip side of the coin, it has been hard to grow without working with large multiples (who tend to ask for unfavourable credit terms). In the long run though, this has benefitted all of our brands, as you won’t find them in large multiples, but rather mostly in smaller retailers across the country, who share our values and small business mentality. Tell us about your product offering. We distribute three brands to UK retailers – Kaweco writing instruments and accessories, Esterbrook writing instruments and accessories, and Schmidt pen refills and components. We also sell Schmidt pen components worldwide. Kaweco has been manufacturing pens and pencils in Germany since 1883. The best-known Kaweco pens belong to the Kaweco Sport family, which includes the CLASSIC Sport range and the weighty BRASS Sport. The Kaweco Sport was first produced in the 1930s and was designed with an oversized cap, in order to be small in the pocket but large in the hand. Today, the Sport family of pens (fountain pens, rollerballs and ballpoints) and pencils come in a wide range of colours and finishes, including many special editions. Other popular Kaweco ranges include the SPECIAL, which includes technical drawing pencils of varying lead sizes, and the STUDENT, a classic traditional fountain pen, as well as LILIPUT, the smallest fountain pen to accept a standard international cartridge. Kaweco writing instruments are suitable for everyone, from those learning how to use a pen to professional artists and calligraphers. Kaweco uses high-quality materials to produce excellent quality pens, including sustainable materials like Brass and Bronze. Bricks and mortar Kaweco stockists can borrow Kaweco’s lever presses for “make your own Kaweco pen” events, so that customers can make their own Kaweco pen in exactly the same way as Kaweco pens are assembled in the Nuremberg factory! The pen presses are always a crowd pleaser at shows and in shops - for more information on how to hire these, please contact us. Most Kaweco pens can also be cobranded– for more information, please get in touch. Cornish expatriate entrepreneur