Friday, June 12, 2015

A Little Info on Who Your Adventure Guide Is...

Before we begin our adventure in search of the perfect vintage nib, I think it’s important that I introduce myself and give you an idea of my background, interests and how I came to be at Karas Kustoms.

Three things I enjoy: Pens, Words and Biking
My name is Paul. I am the Marketing and Customer Service Lead here are Karas Kustoms. Chances are if you had an issue or question in the last week and a half, you either called me or emailed me and hopefully I was able to help you get some clarity or information. I am relatively new here but have caught on quick and truly feel right at home.

My career background is pretty diverse, I have worked in a library, later as a truck driver, served 7 years in the U.S. Army, then spent 5 years in retail management and now I am working for a small machine shop in Mesa, AZ helping get some of the greatest quality machined pens into your grubby little hands. So all in all, my career trip to this point has been varied, but it’s all been worth it as it prepared me to do a great job working for Karas Kustoms.

This is a great time to talk about how I came to be working at Karas Kustoms.

About a year ago, I began using a fountain pen in hopes of improving my VERY poor handwriting. I purchased an inexpensive Chinese fountain pen and messed around with it for a month or so before tossing it aside because it had extremely poor balance. I went back online and this time picked up a “vintage” fountain pen, a Sheaffer’s Balance. This pen was aesthetically striking with its Golden Brown Striated celluloid and its shiny gold nib. What I failed to understand prior to purchasing this pen, was that almost all vintage pens that are sold on sites like Ebay do not function. They are old antiques with crystallized inner workings and ink clotted nibs. When I realized this I was left with two choices; send the pen to a vintage pen repair/restoration expert or learn to repair the pen myself.
The choice was an easy one because I figured I could invest 50 dollars in repair tools, another 50 dollars on “beater” pens to practice on, and then scour the internet for tutorials in order to learn the basics on repair techniques. I did just that and over the next nine months went from a novice that ruined quite a few pens and nibs to a relatively skilled pen repairman. I don’t have the tools to conduct full restorations, but I can work with nearly any pen or filling mechanism and return an old, beat up pen to one that functions just like it was meant to.

It was about six months into my journey with fountain pens, when my wife informed me of the INK Kickstarter that Karas Kustoms was doing. She backed the Kickstarter for three pens, and when they finally came in, she gave me one. I quite liked the pen. It was super durable which was perfect since my job could frequently involve physical labor and I often broke pens or didn’t carry a pen because of this reason. My INK became my everyday carry pen. It fit perfectly in my front pants pocket, and I didn’t leave home without. Not only did it go everywhere with me, I used it all the time. It always worked no matter what situation I was in, my INK wrote the second it touched paper. And that meant a lot to me because a lot of fountain pens don’t write on contact.

My Desk (Left some of my repaired pens, Right Karas Pens)
I had the opportunity to take a day and check out Karas Kustoms in person, so I headed down with the idea that I would take 15 minutes or so and chat with Dan about pens and his vision and maybe try some of Karas’ other pens. My 15 minute visit turned into a 2 hour stay that entailed a tour, checking out future products and seeing some of the test color INKs that were made. It was an awesome day to say the least. I also had the opportunity to take a vintage pen of Dan’s home and fix it. This of course prompted a second trip to drop off the pen and that trip ended up lasting a few hours. Suffice it to say, over the next few months I dropped in two or three more times and spent at least an hour each time chatting with Dan and sometimes Bill about all things pens. It was pretty cool for a self-professed Pen Nerd.

I happened to be unemployed when the Marketing and Customer Service Lead position became available. And when I heard about it, I jumped at the opportunity to work here. Luckily they decided I was a pretty good fit for the job as well.

As a Pen Nerd I bring a passion for the product Dan has designed and Bill and his team have put in thousands of hours refining and machining that not many people understand. I thoroughly enjoy writing and the feeling I get when I am done creating something out of words is like nothing else I have experienced. I believe that a person’s writing instrument says a lot about them as a thinker and creator. I want people to get the same enjoyment from using a pen as I do, and to get just a little too excited about something as mundane as a pen. I think our pens accomplish all that and more. They are reminiscent of the retro stylings of classic hot rods and trucks, you know, the old metal ones that still turn your head when you see them on the road. Our pens do the same thing, people notice them. But not in a snobbish way as many fancy writing instruments do, in a way that we all can connect to, as something really cool that you want to touch and try out. Most of all, I think our pens will truly make you WANT to write again, and I think that’s something that you just don’t find in most of today’s writing instruments.

Having said all that I will close with just a few more tid-bits about me. I am happily married and just celebrated my 15 year wedding anniversary. I have a 12 year old daughter who tries to run our lives. Besides pens, writing and pen repair; I also enjoy reading, biking, kayaking and spending time with my family. 

I think it’s going to be quite fun as we begin this weekly journey via the Karas Kustoms Blog. Who knows where it might lead us. We might get crazy and dig into Pen History, decide to take a virtual tour through the shop, go on a photo shoot with Tommy or spend some time talking shop with Bill and Dan. Whatever the case is, this will be an outlet for things that are more “off the beaten path” as it were in relation to Karas Kustoms. I hope you don’t mind and I hope you keep reading.

Until next time, keep writing!

Oh and I quite enjoy having a beard.


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