I was desperately sick yesterday and didn’t realize that was national handwriting day until weak up in the midnight. However, I still have something brilliant to share with my readers today–I went to the Baron Fig’s HQ in Brooklyn!
From Left: Joey, Andi, Chandler, Sam
I underestimated the wind there late in the afternoon and was shaking like crazy on my way there. But once I got into the comfy setting of the Studio Fig with the help from Andi, the company’s customer service lead, I managed to put myself together and enjoyed a sweet talk with the team. I prepared a list of questions which are mostly stationary and gadgets-related, such as what pen did you use today and what’s your favorite fountain pen. From my half-clear half-opaque brain, I even managed to invent some somewhat awkward questions along the way such as have you encountered any friction when introducing the products to the people around you…But the fine folks there was nice and handled the situation well.
The other co-founder, Adam, was out for a business meeting when I was there, and Jay was on a trip in the west. But I still have a Chandler, the designer, and Sam, the software guru to talk to, and they were really nice!
The key takeaway from this visit: the company is conducting not only one, but two top secret projects now and at least one of them would be a fountain pen. Joey Cofone, the co-founder of the company, didn’t confirm that, nor did the rest of the team, but my gut told me during our interaction that something inky is going on behind the curtain.
I brought my daily pen case to the Studio Fig. Besides that, my Charcoal Squire and Kaweco Supra in pen slots. I picked up the Kaweco for its brass material, which makes it interesting to compare it with the newest brass Squire.
Joey is a person of charisma. He started his design studio (which is still searchable in Google Maps) in midtown manhattan after studying at the SVA, and with Adam, they started the whole story of Baron Fig with the Confidant kickstarter. After asking him to present me their newest Lock & Key edition Squire and notebook, I showed him the Kaweco Supra. After fidgeting with the Kaweco brass pen for a while, he went directly to a scale on the desk set in the center of the studio. “Same weight, 1.9 oz!” He returned with excitement. At the end of the conversation, he asked me to show him the Rhodia notepad I was jotting on– a man with a passion for the stationery. We did dip into the issues of the incident last year. He asked three question to me: What are the things that you think the company has been doing right, what are the things could be improved, and what would you do if you are the person in charge of this place?
I am not a diehard fan of the brand, nor I have bought any stuff directly from the company or its Kickstarter project. But I have to concede that these questions were pretty good starting points for a business owner to ask, especially after all these incidents.
Q: What pen did you use today?
Andi: The Lock & Key edition of Squire.
Joey: A top-secret one.
Chandler: A Silver Squire, and rollerball is the best!
Sam: A Charcoal Squire.
Q: Your favorite fountain pens?
Joey: My yellow LAMY Safari, besides another top-secret pen…
Sam: A Sheaffer my father gave me when I was 8 grade.
Q: How many phones do each of you have? Which brand?
The Team: 1; Apple’s iPhone.
Q: What’s next big thing for the company?
Joey: There is a high likelihood that you may like it.
Q: I heard Adam (who is in charge of operation) is in Michigan checking some manufacturing stuff, so why Michigan? (I was thinking since all the previous products were made in Asia, turning to factories in Michigan is an intriguing move.)
Andi: Because the people there are more willing to do do a boutique size product for us.
Q: Why there is a podcast called Eureka on your site, and why I can hardly hear things related to your products in its episodes?
Sam: One day during lunch break Joey was complaining that there were not enough good podcasts to listen to. So we decided to make one ourselves.
Joey: Yes, basically that’s the reason. And we want to make something that we want to listen to, so that’s the reason why you can hardly hear hard advertisement there. … To ensure the sound quality, we mailed a combo of high-quality microphone and headphone to our guest each time and paid the shipment for its way there and back.
The team’s favorite podcasts list:
The Team: Radiolab http://www.radiolab.org
99% Invisible https://99percentinvisible.org
Nintendo Power https://m.soundcloud.com/nintendopowerpodcast
2 Dope Queens https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/dopequeens
This American Life https://www.thisamericanlife.org/archive
Update Jan 25st 4PM ET: It was Jay, not Adam in the previous version, who went out west. And Adam’s part was added.