It was in the year 2002 when William Penn started off its journey. From one retail store for premium stationery to now a nation-wide chain of 31 stores, the company has come a long way. In this long journey of over a decade, the company has very beautifully molded itself with the changing times while keeping its crust intact. And that’s why the feel of William Penn stayed the same. Now, of course, it is becoming bigger with contemporary ideas and new brand collaborations. When Mr. Nikhil Ranjan, MD of William Penn, was caught in a conversation with The Telegraph last month, he reflected on the newer facets that his company is exploring. The most important thing was that, even in these times of advanced technology of smartphones and touchscreens, Nikhil is firm and confident that nothing can replace the joy and contentment of writing on paper with a fine pen. And that can be proved by the fact that this world has seen inventions of legendary writing instruments and new ideas are being endorsed every day. On further discussion, Nikhil reflected on how the company has been exploring newness to redefine William Penn to be more relatable to youth.
“I see our growth coming from the younger audience. We underwent a
rebranding exercise last year and changed the look and feel of our stores to make it a lot younger, more contemporary while retaining our core business, which is writing instruments. Driving the resurgence of the use of writing instruments are the millennials, who, have not grown up writing as much as the older generation; so there’s a big desire to touch, feel and use paper and pen among them”, Nikhil said. “So William Penn stores are not geared towards the collector now. They are largely targeted at a younger audience who is coming in to try out a new pen or upgrade from their existing pen. Naturally, the products are fairly affordable too.”, he added.The renewing of the company is also apparent as it has opened its doors to Men’s Lifestyle Accessories too. Yes, William Penn is now not just a destination of premium writing instruments but also a place to find all the latest Men’s lifestyle accessories. The collection of these accessories are, however, chosen very wisely to go parallel with what William Penn stands for, Classy and Chic. The lifestyle wing under William Penn includes Wallets, Key Rings, Belts, Bags and many more from brands like Sheaffer, HUGO BOSS, Quick Brown Fox, Lapis Bard, JEKYLL & HIDE, DEVOTIE and many more. “There is a big growth in demand, so there is a large collection of accessories that we have included in our stores. These include writing accessories (premium and/or smart notebooks and pens), small leather items (like wallets and belts), travel-related products (like an organizer with an integrated power bank and a USB drive, or a traveler’s journal) and desktop accessories,” said Nikhil.
Where to start?
Like any other collection, such as stamp or coin, you start with a little bit of homework. First, you need to get a feel of the pens themselves. So you can visit our stores or look at pen collector websites to see what they are saying. Then you will get an idea of what kind of pen you want and why. And then you start building your collection.
Penmakers to check out
How do you decide that a pen is worth collecting?
It needs to appeal to you at the end of the day. There are special editions that companies bring out from time to time. There may be products that are unique in that you may want to buy.
On his own collection
I have about 50-60 pens. And each of them for me has a story. Either I have got them as gifts or bought something because I found it interesting. It could also be something that has now gone out of production or one with a nib that has been personalized by an expert like Nobuyoshi Nagahara (the resident nib expert at Japan’s Sailor Pen). It might also be a pen that has sentimental value because I have signed some contract with it. So these are in my collection, though not necessarily expensive ones.
Nikhil’s Favourite picks
One is a limited edition Sheaffer known as King’s Gold that was probably made 25 years ago. It is one of the inlaid, V-nib pens that Sheaffer was known for. Then I have a Sailor limited edition called Sri Ganesha which was made specifically for India. There were only 36 pens made; I have No.1 of 36. There’s a limited edition from Aurora, which is an Italian brand. They used to make a pen called Asia in their Continents collection. Nikhil shows that to build an empire on something, one has to be passionate about it. That’s why no matter how big an enterprise he is running, in his heart, he’s still an admirer of fine writing instruments who has never stopped looking for perfection. Click here to read the interview.