The Year that was
In January 2017, we finalised the deal that would result in me taking over Pocket Notebooks. There were several calls as the mechanics and details got worked out. I took an office (well, a converted meeting room) in Ludgershall, Wiltshire. A fifteen minute drive from home.
Suddenly, as of the first of February, I was on my own. The site was running, and stock was on the way.
Every order was an adventure, every discussion with a supplier a new start.
My last job was Group Operations Director (GOD, for short) overseeing Operations and Compliance of a multi-national financial services company. Now, I was trying to work out how to construct a posting box from a flat cardboard template. (It took me forever.) Meetings consisted of me taking the CEO for a walk on adjacent wasteland and asking his opinion on stationery matters. He was, and remains, enigmatic. Perhaps not surprising, as his life largely resolves around the words “Walk? And Treat?”
I’ll be honest, sure it was exhilarating, but waiting for those first orders was scary.
By May it was time to move. I had been buying so many notebooks that I needed more space. From Ludgershall, I crossed the county border to Hampshire. I was back in Andover. In the same complex where the financial business had been based. Surely this would be enough for the next year or two?
Nero took me aside. It was mostly woofs and snorts, but I knew what he meant. It was time to get some help. As things were, if I wanted holiday, then PoNo was closed. That was not the level of service that the mini-schnauzer expected.
Clare joined, and immediately started bringing some order to fulfilment. Packages got faster, got the right postage and sometimes, even had the right contents.
By September, it was clear that we were going to need more space, or less stock. We took the former option, and as of November 1st, took up residence across the courtyard in our third office of year 1, from where I am typing this post.
We have in excess of 500 individual product codes on the site now. Thanks to all the lovely customers out there, the business is growing. Who knows? Soon it may even pay me a wage. We’ll see.
Plans? Oh, we got plans…
- Graphite. Lots and lots of graphite. We already carry pencils by Blackwing, Calepino, Story Supply, Public Supply, Kaweco, Faber Castell and Field Notes. We will be adding extensive lines from Koh-I-Noor and Staedtler. More will follow.
- Site Navigation. I invested a chunk of change in getting the site easier to navigate. I still didn’t get to where I want to go. It can still be tough to find things, and some of the photos that we use are horrible. It was, and continues to be a very steep learning curve. This is a priority for the first quarter.
- Brand. It was always my intention to amend and evolve the brand name from Pocket Notebooks. Rather than force it, I wanted the name to emerge. In a conversation earlier this month, it emerged, along with a logo. Watch this space.
This site was established to get cool analogue tools into the hands of the people that wanted them. That continues to be its raison d’être.
I want the business to be self-sustaining, and to have a secure future. It’s not there yet, but it will get there.
I get to sit here and play with notebooks and other stationery. I listen to my records, type up blog posts and talk to fantastic customers on social media. Nero gets lots of walks and has an established circuit of admirers around the offices, all of whom keep treats especially for him.
I am a lucky, lucky guy.
So, as the old year goes and the new one arrives, Thank you.
Thank you very much for your support.
Clare, Nero and I wish you all the very best for 2018.
Oh…and write more notes.