Leena Shrestha-Menon, Pen Boutique: spreading joy, one fountain pen at a time.
Leena Shrestha-Menon of Pen Boutique – the lady who is giving empathy a fab new meaning with her fountain pens in an exclusive tête-à-tête with www.inkedhappiness.com:
Q1. Buy a pen in the US to help a disabled child in Nepal? WOW! WOW!WOW! My fountain pens are besides themselves in joy. Tell us more about your unique initiative.
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: When we started Pen Boutique, our motto was to make more and give more. We wanted to attach ourselves with something useful towards the community. My dad is also engaged in non-profit and he wanted to do something in the name of his mom who had scarified a lot to bring up a mountain boy and make him an engineer. So, I joined hands with my dad knowing that disabled children will get full help since he is personally in-charge of the initiative. A part of the proceeds of the pen one purchases from us, goes towards the Shri Jeet Handicap Service Center.
We believe that the more we give, the universe will make sure that the more is given to us.
Q2. From your vantage position, do you see a revival in the demand for fountain pens? Or is it just a flash in the pan, of kids going “retro” before things get back to the normal?
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: Pens in general have come back in demand. We sell a lot of fountain pens but also roller- ball and ballpoints. They are really getting traction. Fountain pens have made a comeback partially due to the way one can use it with inks. Also, the whole process of filling ink is a different feeling. Fountain pens also sell more since people like to match the pen with the ink. So, they get different pens and different inks to match. I am also a case study in this, as I keep on matching my fountain pens with ink. Recently I got the TWSBI Diamond Emerald and matched it up with the J. Herbin Emeraude De Chivor ink. Now I have separate journals, notebooks for each of these colours to use. So, the possibilities are endless and once you are hooked, it is a unique personal ride by itself.
Q3. What do you feel should be done to increase the demand for fountain pens? To induce more people to us them? To write with their hands?
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: One of the things which we should do is to bring younger generations to it. The younger generation will start with a basic fountain pen and you and I know once the interest grows, they are going to keep upgrading themselves. One of the endeavours we do is to encourage kids to write with fountain pens. We do this in conjunction with the local library where we do free fountain pen classes for kids from the age of 9 – 13 years. Programs like this can help introduce fountain pens to the younger generations.
Q4. What us your take on the Indian fountain pen industry? Why are Indian pens conspicuous in their absence among the line-up of your store?
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: The products that Indian fountain pen manufacturers make are great. But the main problem lies in two parts. One is the nib and other is the filling mechanism. The preferred way is to gather the international cartridges, but for some reason, there is a twist in the cartridges to make it proprietary. The nib part is the one which is really the bigger factor. There is a big demand for Jowo and Bock nibs which makes Indian manufacturers to look for indigenous sources or sources from China. These nibs unfortunately are a hit or a miss which puts the customer in a doubt. We are again trying with another vendor and hopefully we can get them in our line-up.
Q5. As a retailer, what do you feel ails the fountain industry in general? What steps should be taken to address them?
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: The biggest dent in the fountain pen industry is the general perception by the non fountain pen users that it is a very tedious job or it is messy. When I go to gatherings, the first thing they ask me when I introduce my company is that fountain pens (err. Quill pens as per them) are messy and who buys fountain pen now-a-days when everyone uses iPad or tablet. Then I go on to explain that it is no more “messy”, and easy can be as good as a roller-ball or ballpoint pen with cartridges, and that it is a kind of therapy with ultimate health benefits in this modern world.
Q6. Anything that you would like to communicate to our readers – fountain pen lovers all?
Leena Shrestha-Menon, PEN BOUTIQUE: I started Pen Boutique with a passion for fine pens. It is rare that what you love is your livelihood. The work is now like a hobby. The flip side is that you spend hours before realizing that you have exceeded your work hours. Such is what happens when you love what you do. Time passes quickly and you feel achieved. So, for all the fountain pen lovers, check our store out and see what we can do to improve and how better can we serve you. Give us your thoughts and also write a page everyday morning with some new thoughts, off-course with a fountain pen. It is an amazing therapy and you will start finding peace.
For More Information Visit: https://www.penboutique.com