To provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.
To prove that business can be personal.
- Work Hard, Be Honest, Be Flexible
- Trust is our currency
- Work as a team
- Empower through education
- Express gratitude
- Serve with passion
Our Values, Explained.
Work Hard, Be Honest, Be Flexible
When Brian Goulet was growing up, he was taught to "work hard, be honest, be flexible" from his parents who started and ran a business at home. Brian saw these values lived out by his parents, and naturally made them his own. In the early days of GouletPens.com, Brian and Rachel both operated under these capstones, though without making a very clear distinction that they were Goulet "company values". It wasn’t until more folks joined the Goulet team that it became clear that these were the earliest guiding principles to the way things were done at The Goulet Pen Company. So, "Work hard, be honest, be flexible" became the company’s unofficial motto.
As we sought to define what it is that makes all the Goulet magic happen, we couldn’t help but include these. This value is really a 3-in-1, and that’s intentional. Ultimately, we decided to keep them together because of the significance they have as a group and with Brian’s upbringing.
We do this every day by making sure that we’re shipping orders out the door as quickly as possible, working extra hard on Mondays to catch up from long weekends. We hustle during releases of new products because we know customers will be excited to receive their new cool stuff. We're not afraid to take on big, lofty projects to improve our site and our customers' experience, and we continually disrupt ourselves to raise our own bar. Working hard is just the baseline.
This one’s easy. It's just who we are. We're going to point out the highs and lows of the products we review because we're not just trying to sell you something, we really want you to be happy with what you buy from us. We'll admit when we’ve screwed up. We'll be forthright when there are tough business decisions to make that affect your experience with us. We're not afraid to be personally accountable for the actions we take, and honesty is the foundation for building a trusting relationship with you. We're authorized dealers for all the products we carry, so you know that our products are authentic and we're legit. As human beings we think that being honest is just the right way to live, and as a company, we think honesty is just good business.
We’re a Monday-Friday shop, but our website never closes. We're in the retail business with its seasonal fluctuations, new product releases, and a host of other factors that can ebb and flow the demands put on us. Things can change daily, or even hourly. We are intentional about our planning, but always remain flexible so that we can adapt to the day-to-day needs of our customers. We're also flexible with our team. We all work hard and have stuff to do, but we have lives, too. Kids and pets get sick, tires go flat, life happens. We accommodate as much of this life stuff as possible, allowing for flexible schedules for our team based on their life needs as much as we can.
Trust is our currency
What an intriguing statement, isn’t it? This is our only “non-action oriented” company value, but we just loved the way the phrase came together. Essentially, what this means is that trust is the exchange by which we operate our company. In an environment without trust, things are stressful, inefficient, uninspired, and basically everything we’re trying to avoid. By working to build trust all around our company, we truly work together as a unified team and notice that we’re able to accomplish some pretty cool things.
We put out videos of our products and are as honest and candid with the good and bad features as possible. These are all videos we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time producing, all for free. Same goes for the website – you wouldn’t believe how much effort goes into doing our own photography, taking our own product measurements, and developing the innovative tools like the Swab Shop, Pen Plaza, and Nib Nook. Could you cruise our website, watch our videos, call us, email us, hit us up on Twitter and Facebook, and still buy your stuff from someone else? Sure. It happens all the time, for some people. But we know that by adding value to your writing experience, we are earning your trust and you will want to support our company so that we can stick around for a while and continue to serve you.
And you trust that we’re being fair in our pricing, which we feel we are. You trust that we’re being honest with the information we present to you when you’re making a buying decision. You trust that we’re selling good quality products, and that we’ll be responsible in the way we pack them up so they arrive to you safely. You also trust that we’ll work quickly so you don’t have to wait any longer than you have to. If there should be any errors, you trust that we’ll always make it right.
We trust you, you trust us, and around we go. So you see how trust is our currency, exchanged between us to make for a really positive experience for everyone. Isn’t that how it should be?
Work as a team
The teamwork at Goulet began with Brian and Rachel in the very first days of the company. With their diverse and complimentary skills, they needed to rely on each other to get done everything that was needed to get the business off the ground. This hasn’t changed one bit today, where everyone on our team is recognized and encouraged to build upon his/her own unique backgrounds, skills, and natural abilities. We don’t call ourselves "employees", but rather "team members", and we really mean it.
We do personality profiles for every team member to better understand ourselves and how we can all communicate better given our individual styles. We have in-depth multi-stage interview processes for every position that involves interacting with at least eight different people. We do short daily check-in team meetings, a longer weekly company-wide meeting, regular company lunches, and 1-on-1 weekly supervisor meetings for personal development.
Our team focus also helps you out. We do a lot of cross-training and communication, which helps us all to work together better. But it also helps when we have people that might have random life things just pop up that keep them from being able to work. We can all shift around and still get done what needs to be done in order to serve you. We cover for each other as the work ebbs and flows so that we can keep things happening at Goulet speed. Our teamwork is something that has really defined us.
Empower through education
You’re experiencing this right now, as you’re reading this! We're always looking to add value through our education. Let's be honest, fountain pens are awesome but they're not exactly something commonly known these days. Most people have a vague sense of what a fountain pen is, but there is so much more that needs to be understood to really grasp how awesome it is to write with a fountain pen. Recognizing an opportunity with tools like our blog, our website, and YouTube, we aim to teach anyone who's interested to learn about how to use fountain pens.
Our videos are a huge part of this education, though there's so much more. We have a whole Customer Care team that answers phone calls, emails, Live Chat, Tweets, Facebook questions, comments on the blog and YouTube, etc., all with the desire to give you a better writing experience by actually teaching you how to use your products. We invest a tremendous amount of time in training our team, learning our own products inside and out, and sharing this information with you. As we've grown in the writing industry, we also take the opportunity to educate our manufacturers about what you want, so that we can have an influence on future product offerings and design.
Education has been such a critical part of our company’s growth, that we rarely do any traditional paid advertising (i.e. no banner ads or pay-per-click campaigns). As Andy Sernovitz says, "advertising is the cost of being boring." We firmly believe that if we put out solid content and provide you with awesome customer service, that your word-of-mouth will spread our name out there. And it has.
In the pre-fountain pen days of GouletPens.com, we turned wood pens by hand and were barely treading water. Despite a beautiful product and a great passion for woodturning, we simply could not gain traction as a business. Once we discovered the fountain pen community and really understood your needs, things turned around and we saw that we really had a future in the fountain pen world. Call it luck, call it a blessing, call it destiny or whatever you want, but we know that we’re here doing what we do primarily because of things outside of our control, and we are grateful simply for the opportunity to do what we do every day.
Since the very first order we received, we have written out a handwritten 'thank you' note on every single order that leaves our shop, expressing gratitude to you as a customer for allowing us to do what we love. You can imagine what it’s been like to keep this up as we’ve grown, but it’s one way to show we are grateful. We have little touches like lollipops in your package so that you can munch on a little treat as you’re unpacking your goodies. We buy company lunches and cool Goulet shirts for our team to wear. We give a referral bonus to any team member who finds us top-notch people to join our team. And we just say "thank you" to each other, a lot. There’s an air of gratitude around the Goulet shop, and we think it comes across in all that we do.
Serve with passion
Passion is the most compelling aspect that drew us into the fountain pen world. The people who are into fountain pens are really into them, and we totally get that because we’re right here with you! We went through the whole process: being a complete newbie, trying to figure out what a converter is and how to actually fill a pen from a bottle of ink, understanding different nib grinds, and what makes a $150 pen worth more than a $15 one. We've learned all the hard knocks ourselves and still discover more awesome stuff we love about these pens every day. Everyone who joins our team is pretty much a pen novice, so they go through the exact same discovery process that we all have, because that experience is what sparks the passion, and what ties us to each other.
We care about the details, even little touches like accommodating a special request for the color of a notebook or testing a new pen. We keep really close track of our inventory so that we're always accurately displaying what we have available for sale on our site. We do our best to answer questions for you about products that we don't even sell. We develop helpful free tools for you like the Swab Shop, Nib Nook, and Pen Plaza because it’s a great service to you, and we know that these are tools that just should exist. We started Ink Drop, a fun monthly ink sample program based off of ideas we got from you.
We also serve others that you may not expect. We help our mail carriers load up their mail trucks. We take the insights we get from you and share them with decision-makers in the brands we carry to perhaps influence what products are made. But probably the coolest thing we do is a Service Week, where we pay an extra week of vacation to our team members to volunteer for a non-profit in a service role. Some minister to inner-city teens, some volunteer at animal shelters, others volunteer for Vacation Bible School at their local church. Whatever their personal passion, we support their service to the community as a company, and that just feels awesome.
Well, this value is the final value for a reason. It also is punctuated for a reason. If you take out all of the other stuff, forget everything else we do, the bottom line is that we just care. We care about you and your experience with us. We care about our products. We care about the future of writing and especially writing with fountain pens. We genuinely care about each other as a team, and each of our individual aspirations and growth opportunities. We care about our future and we care about being the best version of ourselves. In everything we do, we care. Period.