NY NOW Podcast

The Paper Plane Cocktail Hour: Pencil This In

August 12, 2021 NY NOW Season 1 Episode 49
NY NOW Podcast
The Paper Plane Cocktail Hour: Pencil This In
Show Notes Transcript

If your pencil knowledge begins and ends with the #2 … you need to have a quick word with our guest today! Meet Caroline Weaver, founder of CW Pencil Enterprise. In just a few short years, her palm-sized pencil emporium in the famed Lower East Side of Manhattan has become a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike, quickly establishing itself as an essential stop on the rich fabric of the NYC shopping scene. The deceptively simple pencil not only helps us express ourselves in writing but express our personalities in and of themselves. Caroline's goal of helping us rediscover the joy of slowing down and experiencing the tactility of analog tools has garnered her a cult following, both on and offline, and even a Ted Talk!   

RESOURCES   
| Guest
Website:   
https://cwpencils.com/     

| NY NOW :   
https://nynow.com     

| NY NOW Podcast Page:   
https://nynow.com/podcast     

| NY NOW Digital Market:   
https://nynowdigitalmarket.com    

Amy Loewenberg:

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the paper plane cocktail hour, I am one of your hosts Amy lowenberg relations and partnership development manager at New York now, I treasure the relationships I've established and I relish in the new ones I make every day, sharing information and introducing our amazing community of retailers, buyers, vendors, artists and makers through my spotlight podcast that New York now and my store tours on Instagram.

Sarah Schwartz:

And I am your host, Sarah, you may know me as the founding editor and editor in chief of stationary trends magazine, my site, the paper nerd or possibly my other podcast, the paper fold. I've been covering the stationery and gift industry since 1997. But never did I imagined that I'd one day be covering the market here in the virtual space. Right. And so throughout 2021 we'll be raising our glasses alongside our pencils, as we share stories, compare notes and celebrate three of our all time favorite topics, stationery connection, and cocktails. Cheers. And so Amy, this episode drops August 12. And by then New York now will have just ended. I think it's fitting that we kick off by noting not just what a big deal it is for our community, but also America in our collective recovery from COVID. Can you expand on that for our listeners, in case they haven't heard the news?

Amy Loewenberg:

Absolutely, is a really exciting time right now as we are but a few mere weeks away from our first markets and shut down. We really couldn't be happier to finally be getting back to what we know and what we love. Along with the addition of some really great tools and partnerships that we've implemented over this past year. Plus, we rolled out our own digital market. So we are now a 365 connection platform for buyers and brands. We have our new creative director Brad Ford of Brad Ford ID and field and supply. We have a great partnership with the greeting card association or the GCA. And you will see the GCA village back on the floor of the New York mail market this August, along with a few Louis winners I believe. But something as Sarah mentioned, that's important to know is that we're recording this podcast pre market, it will roll out post market. But what we do know is that the paper playing cocktail hour goes on. So who are we having for cocktails today?

Sarah Schwartz:

Well, our guest today is someone as you know, Amy, who I've wanted to have on for quite some time. In fact, I think she was one of the first guests names that you and I both threw around. When we started this. It she is Caroline Weaver. She's the owner of CW pencil, enterprise pencil specialty store in New York City. Now, if you know anything about Caroline, she is a dynamo. She is one of those people who I watched so I can see which way the retail wind is blowing. She even gave a TED talk on pencils. And if you know anything about us, we tend to read the BIOS our guests sent us verbatim. So I love how Caroline only sent us a log one more sentence in hers. She has authored two books on pencil history and has an interest in exploring the origins of functional objects and collecting useful hobbies. I'm a big fan of the brief bio If I had my way, so to speak, that for Frank Sinatra would be he was a very stylish singer and socially socially.

Amy Loewenberg:

Um, yes, Caroline is the master of her short bio and of her store. She was definitely one of the first people I thought of for the guest lineup. Yes, there you are correct, our brains went in the same direction at the same time. As CW pencil enterprises become a lower east side destination right down the block from another New York City institution, the tenement museum. Her store is the kind of location that makes New York City the vibrant retail scene that it is her family history. Love of the tactile writing instruments and paper surfaces has inspired her to create more than just a niche store but one that holds it as truly one of a kind. Actually, her vision is on point. Get it? Good. Alright, that's enough for me. So let's let's just bring her on. Okay. All right, bring her on.

Sarah Schwartz:

Welcome, Caroline. It is so great to have you. So you have given a TED talk on pencils. And yes, anybody listening can give it a good and find a. It is fittingly called why the pencil is perfect. I love getting a brief glimpse into the history of this deceptively simple object. But I can't help but wonder, how did you first get hooked on them?

Caroline Weaver:

That's a good question. And I can't exactly pinpoint a story or a moment, it was just kind of the our thing in my household growing up that we were office supply nerds, and we cared about the tools that we used, and all of the weavers were the same way. And I kind of took it and ran with it as I got older, and tried other ways of writing and other communication technologies and just kind of realized, like, no, this is just my thing. And I prefer this. And I went to college in London. So I spent a lot of time traveling around Europe, I basically got a degree in traveling, I was like I was hardly in school. And once I started learning about how about all the pencils and other parts of the world that are often superior to what we are used to in the US it kind of opened my eyes and made me think like, well, maybe there's more to this history than I already know. And it just kind of expanded from there.

Sarah Schwartz:

I think it's fascinating. And I been watching your TED talk, I learned how America, you know, sort of took the pencil and ran with it with the Industrial Revolution. And so I'd like most Americans, I pretty much assume that the number two pencil is it. But thank you so much for showing us that like, again, you know, there's it goes way beyond what American culture has done with the pencil and you know, you've opened a place to celebrate it.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah, 100%. I love that you went to schools essentially for travel. A lot of us would have liked to have done that.

Unknown:

Well, yeah, stick an 18 year old and Europe for the first time for four years. And yeah, that'll do it.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah, it will it did. You know, I also love how your community of pencil lovers is a combination of analog and digital people just like what you just shared, all have a need for a writable drawable surface and making the pencil comment to their core. So tell us about your community and how the relationships are that you've developed over the years with them.

Unknown:

Yeah, the community around my shop is really my favorite thing about my job. And it's much more vast than I ever could have anticipated when I first opened, because it really is every type of person. And we have, we have a lot of customers who rely on us for recommendations and information because they have extremely specific needs in their jobs. But then we also have customers who just really enjoy the pleasure of using the things that we sell. And we're big proponents for the handwritten letter in our shop. And so we do a lot of things like that we did a pen pal matching program that kind of blew up in my face a few months ago, I matched together in the shop, we match 300 people with pen pals all over the world. And, yeah, it's the little things like that, that are the most important to me in my job that I can find a way to connect other people through something as simple as a writing tool. And because it's not really a thing that most people require on a daily basis, I think a lot of people are more open to exploring these tools in different ways in their lives, and especially younger people. It's fun to see how they, how they use things like pencils, or really any stationery supply. And yeah, I don't know, our community is really awesome. And there are a lot of communities that we've gotten to know. Because they really need this stuff. Like I I never thought in a million years that I would even like know what an orchestra librarian is. But like, I feel like I've had a conversation with like, every orchestra librarian in the country, because like, That's such a specific demographic of people who really use this stuff and really rely on it. And I never anticipated that.

Sarah Schwartz:

I mean, I mean, when you opened an orchard on orchard Street, how big is your space?

Unknown:

Our space here is about a well, I guess it's divided. I have an office in the back. It's about 700 square feet. That's the actual shop space.

Sarah Schwartz:

So that's tiny. And I mean, when you first opened I you know I thought oh, it's like sort of like a hipster. You know, domain and it's like, you're not you're you are that you're so much more than that as well.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. It's it's very, very much a specialty store. And that's Yeah, there's I was very careful when we first opened to be aware of what how the shop would be interpreted depending on what neighborhood in New York City it was. Yeah, and in many ways, like, I think this shop could be more successful and could have a lot more foot traffic if I'd opened it in like the West Village or in like Williamsburg or something like that. But I think it would have been interpreted differently. Like it was, it was important to me to open in a neighborhood that is like, accessible by subway, like easily walkable for other tourist neighborhoods. But in a place where people just live in our original block on Forsyth Street, it was a 200 square foot shop on a street that like you would never go to you would either live there or just happened to be walking by. And that that was really important to me to not be in a place where people would look at it and automatically roll their eyes and be like, Oh, look at like this twee thing that some young person's trying to do. I want them to look at it and be like, wow, this place looks like a Yeah, like a fun place where people really know their stuff like that. That's what I wanted.

Amy Loewenberg:

I mean, it definitely is a fun place. Getting back to what you were saying before, you know, some of what you mentioned, is almost identical with what I can say about New York now, like, you know, the demographic that people who shop are amazing. And it's so vast, and it's so deep and like you end up meeting people that you never thought that you'd meet that need you as a resource. And you end up learning so much along the way. We definitely have to talk more about your store Sarah kind of led you in there. You know, when I did a store visit with you it was prior to the last holiday season. And I was able to pick up one of your books that you autograph, thank you very much for that I was able to give it to a pencil lover. I know. We were social distancing, so I couldn't overstay my visit. Although Karolina I think I did. But I was just I was smitten with your store and your display and the glass jars filled with these colorful pencils, and these vintage boxes on your walls and all the deliberately chosen gifts and accessories. And the thing that I really was just like I can't not not remember is that incredible, whimsical pencil village holiday that you had on your wall. So smart. So for those who are listening to this, you should definitely check out Caroline's Instagram, you know, just everything is just supporting the love of pencil, the love of the pencil. And again, I just think it's so smart, which is how I would describe you and your shop is just smart with this side of like artistic and whimsical nature. So we would like to hear more about your shop and the evolution of it. I know you've gone through a little bit of a renovation as well. So why don't you tell us about your your your history of a brick and mortar to now.

Unknown:

So when I first signed a lease, it was November of 2014, I suppose. And it was I had started this business online because I couldn't really do any market research because there were no pencil specialty shops to research basically. And so I started online to kind of gauge whether or not there was even a market for this because I truly had no idea. I don't know what I was doing. And quite serendipitously I kind of happened upon a storefront that was exactly the right size, a size that felt safe to me, which was 250 square feet very, very tiny. And the rent was really affordable, especially by Manhattan standards. And I kind of dove headfirst and just did it and didn't really tell anybody that I was doing this thing because I was terrified and afraid of what people would say because it was a kind of crazy endeavor, especially back then it seemed like a completely insane thing for me to invest in and choose to do. And so I opened the shop very, very quietly, I didn't have any employees, it was just me and my best friend who worked on Sunday, so I could take the day off. And it grew very quickly because we got just like a snowball effect of press in the first like six, six months the first year and quickly I had to hire part time employees and then full time employees and we were doing a lot of online sales and I had to sign a lease for another spot down the street for for online fulfillment because it was too much to do it in the store. And I mean, at first a lot of people were coming because they had heard about this store that only sells pencils. And they thought it was just like a hilarious, like very new york novelty. And then we started attracting customers who were coming to us because they had heard that we actually know what we were talking about and like needed help. And, um, and then yeah, people start taking us seriously but yeah, it's been a while Six years, I guess, because we were kind of forced out of our original location because of a big construction negligence problem that resulted in a lawsuit that I'm still dealing with, which is a nightmare. And just honestly, just part of dealing with commercial real estate in New York City, unfortunately, yeah. And it was good timing, though, because we needed a bigger space, we've grown out of that small space. And the growth was very quick and very organic, it just kind of happened. And I just had to, I just felt like I spent years just trying to keep up. And, yeah, we've been here on orchard street for four years, and the shop has gone through many iterations. And we just renovated in January, after so many months of adaptation through the pandemic and being open and then being close and then being kind of open, it was a lot, it's been a lot of adaptation and different versions of the same shop. And then it's, it really became, unfortunately, very necessary. And also very clear to me that if we were going to even have a chance at making it as a business, we needed to start expanding what we sold. And it also was important to me, because the community that we're in, it's like the it's the lower lower east side, I like to call it it's like right on the border of manaton. It's a really neat little pocket of Manhattan. And it's very residential areas, especially through the pandemic, like most of our neighbors stayed, there were still people around and our neighbors who are working from home, like they need stuff from us like they were coming in every day and asking for stuff that we didn't sell. And it got to the point where I kind of was like, Well, why why am I not selling this stuff? Like our neighbors want it. There's nowhere to buy it around here. They want to be able to support us and buy it from us. And so this expansion was very much an financially unnecessary thing, but also felt very necessary if we were going to continue supporting our Yeah,

Amy Loewenberg:

well, I mean, it sounds like you've had that built in confirmation right there. And yeah, a nicer way to step foot into territory that

Unknown:

was newer for you, totally, and I and I knew that this would happen eventually. And it's fun for me, because now I get to sell this other stuff that I care about. And with this, like another thing that I kind of realized during the pandemic is that a lot of the stuff that I was selling, like we our growth was so quick. And I just feel like so much of it, like I just blinked and it happened. And I've gotten to the point where like, I realize like a lot of the stuff that we're selling is not stuff that I personally would buy, which is a problem when you're running a shop like I at least for me, that is like an ethics problem, like I shouldn't be selling people stuff that I wouldn't buy because of my own consumer standards. And so for me, a lot of that has to do with with manufacturing ethics, and with a lot of like packaging, sustainability and that sort of stuff. And so with this relaunch, I also kind of introduced like a new guideline of standards for the products that we sell. And it meant that we eliminated a lot of products that we were previously selling, because they didn't fit those standards. And sure, like just little things like we are not selling as much as we can at least they're always like necessary exceptions, especially when you're dealing with paper. But we're not selling any like sticker sheets or greeting cards that come in cellophane sleeves, because they're just unnecessary. You're doing the naked card half naked cards, but we found like card displays where they fit into their own little pockets that don't get mixed up. They stay clean. Like there we just had to like as far as merchandising goes, like work around ways to display things so that nothing gets damaged, but we're able to sell things as packaged free as we can. And that's been pretty successful so far, but

Amy Loewenberg:

you're getting a little bit easier to not just just to interject, because there are so many vendors out there that are moving in that territory because that's that's where the shift is.

Unknown:

Yeah. Yeah, it's, it's definitely every card vendor that we've reached out to has been totally willing and able to accommodate this and a lot of it is with like like cards that would otherwise come in a box set like in those little like plastic boxes, we end up doing a lot of repackaging on our own. Which any card vendor reader just yeah, stationery vendor that we've reached out to they're always okay with us doing that will like show them like this is how we're going to belly band your cards and have a look displayed and they're okay with that. But it requires a little more work on our end and it requires a lot more communication. I can't just like log on to anybody's like wholesale website and buy things because I have to be communicating about how we need it shipped to us but yeah, it's a it's a good thing and it feels right and our customers often come in and ask for things that we're not selling anymore, but when I explained to them why I haven't had hardly anybody like pick a fight they're like, okay, like, that's cool, good for you. Like thanks for thinking about that and it's fine, but Yeah, it's been it has felt good. And as a business owner, like I just, for me, like this is not about making tons of money. This is about charging fair prices, taking care of my employees taking care of my community sticking up for the things that I believe in and setting a good example. And it's not it's not just about selling things. And yeah, which for better or for worse, it's just how I like to run my business and

Amy Loewenberg:

with strong morals and ethics, so we appreciate that. And, and I mean, look, you

Sarah Schwartz:

can't you, you can't, you have made a very honest approach. And other things have come from it, like your book, like your TED talk. I mean, when you do come in with a gimmick and a stick, you know, people it doesn't resonate the same way. Like, I love the fact that you I mean, I know you've pivoted a bit, for lack of a better term, but I love that you dedicated your store to, you know, one idea or one object, I mean, for you, to me, there's something very like New York ish about it. Like for years, I used to go to tender buttons, before they closed that was a store right near Bloomingdale's. That was just all buttons. And it was amazing. It was like going to a little button museum. And you know, even the other place that closed gustas pickles. I don't know if that was still there, when you open where you would buy the pickles from the pickle barrels on the streets. Oh, my God repairs now. Oh, I mean, there's just something very new york and something very special, I think just about focusing on one element. And I mean, you do it, you do it so nicely. One thing that you mentioned in your TED talk is that the pencil is synonymous with the idea of school. And this will be this will be broadcast during back to school time I,

Unknown:

my daughter is going into 10th grade. She's prepping for the AC T's and the SH T's. So I have to ask you, is there anything you can recommend to give her an edge in those three hour long test runner thoughts? Oh, definitely. Yeah, we even have a we have a sampler set specifically for standardized tests that has six different pencils in it that are pencils that we've been recommending for years for standardized tests. And as we all know very well, it was required that using number two pencils specifically on a standardized test, which is kind of silly to me, because originally that was because that was like the optimal hardness to be like easily read by a by a Scantron computer like the computers that process the test. These days, that technology is good enough, it honestly doesn't really matter. If you wanted to use a TB pencil on a test, like it shouldn't matter. So it kind of annoys me that that's like still the standard. And they harp on about that because a lot of really good pencils aren't graded, like they don't have a number assigned to them. Like blackwing pencils, for example. People are always asking us if they can use blackwing pencils on their essay tees. And I mean, I tell them like technically Yes, if you can get away with it. So bring an extra pencil just in case. But yes, generally, especially with with tests where you're filling in bubbles, if you're trying to fill in bubbles, quickly, it's better to have a slightly dull point because there's more surface area. So a pencil that at number two that run soft is ideal for that. And of course, if you are taking a test, like the really helpful thing is a really good eraser. And you might not want to have your own separate eraser. So there are some pencils that have better racers on the end than others. But then like if there's an essay portion of the test, like that's the opposite. You want to have a pencil that runs hard, so you don't have to keep sharpening it. So yeah, there are definitely some pencils that are better than others. I think like the unanimous unanimous favorite amongst our staff at least is won by Tombow, which is a Japanese company. It's the Tombow to 558 General writing pencil and it's it's like their kind of their answer to the American like yellow number two pencil it is painted yellow, and it has a really good eraser and it runs a little soft. So it's very good for bubble filling. But I will say that a couple months ago, my shop manager and I both took our exams to be notary publics, which required going to a physical place downtown and taking a standardized test 40 questions multiple choice on like a Scantron sheet which neither of us had done that for at least Oh God, like, I think for both of us had been about 15 years since we had done a standardized test like that. And it was the thing that I forgot about taking film like felt bubble fill in test is that if you're not sure of the answer, you shouldn't fill it in all the way because erasing It is really hard and that paper is really bad and no matter how Yeah, yeah, like No matter how good your eraser is, like I was, so the pencils that I chose for not good ones like I the eraser. And it wasn't that the erasers were bad, they were just bad on that paper. And so it was really eye opening for me to actually take a test again. And I learned like I really did it wrong. I'm not sure of the answer, I should fill it in lightly, so I can actually erase it. I have a lot of opinions about standardized testing pencils, especially now, but we do have a sampler set for young people who are taking this very seriously and want to like test them all out on a practice test. We have kids come in during testing season all the time who come in to talk to us about it and try them out. But it does vary a little bit depending on whether or not there is an essay portion of the test. Okay, well,

Sarah Schwartz:

I'm gonna have to get her by your sample set, have heard to use it for the for her practice has because I know how she does it. Like she goes through and answers everything she knows right away. And then she goes back, you know, and then she goes back, so she might have to switch pencils in there.

Amy Loewenberg:

I'm not remembering all that all the times that we erase. And then the erasing mark is like darker and more drastic than the actual pencil. Yeah, there are so many articles to these tests. Exactly. I

Sarah Schwartz:

just I just you hearing you talk, though. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm so glad it's better her than me.

Amy Loewenberg:

So So listen, after a disruptive year, do you see pencils in any sort of a different light like has this year of late strife and pivoting and making changes? Has it shifted the way you see pencils and their importance?

Unknown:

I suppose so. And I think like, I don't know, I mean, I, I run an entire business around something that is essentially just a simple pleasure. And for me, those types of objects outside of the pencil even are really important to me in the way that I live my life. But what I've seen with other people's especially is that like the people in our community have a newfound appreciation for things like the pencil that are very, very simple pleasures that are tactile, and that help them connect with others and connect with themselves. And yeah, I guess for a lot of people, stationery in general has, I don't know has taken on a new meeting as a way to communicate with others in a way to express thoughtfulness and as a way to document things. And that's been really cool to see to see other people come in and tell me like they they're writing to their like first pen pal they've ever had like a look, we've had so many grownups come in and tell us that like they have a new pen pal and they haven't written a letter in like 10 years and they don't know where to start. And so it's just such a joy to be able to help others navigate kind of relearning these simpler communication technologies. It's such a joy

Sarah Schwartz:

That's amazing. And you know, that's amazing that you're a part of their journey to where they'll probably very you know, hold had a special place in their heart. That nice lady at the pencil So, finally, I can't not ask you what is your favorite pencil and why?

Unknown:

I it depends on the day you're asked me I I really liked them all for different reasons. There are not that many pencils that I just like I mean, I only sell pencils that I like if there are any that I just like I do not sell them. But that said I really, I don't know Sunday's I really like a really traditional like European style pencil that's made just with clay water and graphite that is like audibly scratchy because that feels like tactile and cool or like in general though, I think I prefer like a Japanese HB or be like something soft and smooth that holds the point Japanese pencils tend to be a little bit more high tech and they Yeah, they tend to be like dark and smooth but still have pretty good point retention. And so I guess if I were to pick like an all time favorite, like if I was on a desert island with one pencil it would be there's a there's a small Japanese company called camel pencil company and they're known for this pencil that they first designed in the 1980s that is just like they come round and hexagonal and they have this very minimalist or racer that doesn't have a feral and for anyone who doesn't know a feral is the metal thing that holds an eraser on to a pencil. And so they're very, very minimalist and it's just like this eraser stuck on the end that's just like seamless with the pencil. And they have a little bit of a cult following, especially in with musicians. There's a shop in Tokyo Cody Toya, which I'm sure your listeners are familiar with. It's like a stationary mega store basic human Italia. has a private label camel pencil that's made for them. And because they're such a big store, a lot of people think that it's like a toys pencil, but really, it's made by camel pencil company for a toy. And so we, a couple years ago had them make us our own private label version of the camel pencil. And so we we have our own and HB and also in to be we've just introduced a softer while a couple of weeks ago. But yeah, I really love that pencil. It's beautifully designed. It's so simple. It holds a point, well, it's dark, it's smooth, it's Yeah, does everything it needs to do very

Sarah Schwartz:

well. And and wait a minute, wait a minute, so but your response gave me another question, which is, why would you reject a pencil? Like what is it that makes you it's like enough, what makes you you know, frustrated enough that you're like, I'm That's it? I'm

Unknown:

not caring? Like, if the graphites really inconsistent, or if it's like badly centered, or the wood is really bad quality doesn't sharpen well, like Like, for example, like we don't sell current. This is very controversial. And we spend a lot of time talking about this. We do not sell currently manufactured Ticonderoga pencils, because quite frankly, they are not good. There are other pencils that are inexpensive and significantly better. And yeah, we just do not sell them. Because also I think a lot of people don't realize that. Yes, this is especially relevant as it is back to school season. But people don't realize that the Ticonderoga that exists now is not at all the same pencil that like we would have known from our childhoods like it's it has, it was bought out by a big conglomerate, like over a decade ago. And they're made, they're not made in the US anymore. They haven't been for a really long time. Like literally the only thing that's the same about the tech 100 again now versus 20 years ago is that it has the same branding on it. That's the only similarity. And so there's a there's this big misconception that like khandro does best pencil and that's absolutely not true. You have companies like general pencil company, or most who are in Jersey City and Musgrave who are in Tennessee who are like to over 100 year old family owned businesses that are based in the US they make really affordable pencils that are really high quality and much better than Ticonderoga. But yeah, so there are bad pencils. And that's why my shop exists because I think people are used to that. And they think that that's what a pencil is. And then they come in here. And they try all these ones that we have. They're like, wait a minute like this, why is this so nice? And I have to tell them like, well, this is what it's supposed to be. And you just didn't know that. And now you do. So it's like, you know, we

Amy Loewenberg:

walk around and we pick up these pens. And we're like, wow, that writes really well. You have a pencil, you're like, wow, that writes really well. And we hold on to it. We want to make sure that nobody borrows it, because we're never gonna see it again. Well, I mean, it is so clear that your knowledge of the pencil is vast, Caroline, and you know, Sarah and I have listened to your TED Talks. We've read your previous interviews. We've learned a little bit now from the history that you've shared about pencils. But we thought it would be fun to try to stump you on some good old fashioned pencil trivia. Are you game to play with us? Yeah,

Unknown:

I am. I'm terrified. My bad memory, especially with like numbers and dates. I hope there are no numbers and dates. Well,

Amy Loewenberg:

I will tell you that I actually think you know a lot about these. I think we might get you on one or two. Sarah thinks you're gonna know them. We got we've got that going. So there, there's $5 resting on.

Sarah Schwartz:

I say you're gonna know that they're so easy for you and you're just gonna, you're just gonna rattle about

Amy Loewenberg:

and I think we're gonna get you at least on one of them. So you're ready. I'm ready. Okay, I think we're gonna stump you on this one. Here we go. All right. trivia question number one. How long have a line can a typical pencil draw? This is going to give you three examples. Or three options. A line that's 21 miles long, a line that is 35 miles long or a line that is 42 miles long. Okay, well, I guess the question is, what's a typical

Sarah Schwartz:

pencil? I know I know.

Unknown:

This is a question I know that there there was the ever heard favor Mangal pencil did a lot of advertisements in the 1960s where they tried to like quantify all these like things about their pencil and they like they even like put on there that this was like, verified by like the new just a really generic name was like the New York research lab, which like they're hilarious. They make no sense. But there was like when I first opened, there was a British design group who had made a pencil that They had like, done this math as well. And that was I know, and they and the pencil was like marked. So as you sharpen it, you could tell how much like distance you had. And but, but they did it in kilometers. So it was a 10 kilometer pencil. And I remember that there was a mild version that we sold, but I don't remember. So. I don't even remember what the numbers were, I don't know. I'm not gonna hold you accountable.

Amy Loewenberg:

It's not 35 miles or 42 miles.

Unknown:

I don't think it's that this is not fair. Because it also depends on how heavy handed you are. I'm gonna go with whatever like 21 miles the left, the lowest number is what I'm gonna go with.

Amy Loewenberg:

Okay, well, this particular trivia question said it was 35. So

Unknown:

hey, I also like it depends on how often you sharpen it. It depends on the hardness of your pencil.

Amy Loewenberg:

I pretty much believe that you are a firm writer and that you would get that pencil down to 21 miles regardless,

Unknown:

I think for me, it would be like one mile. I don't. I love I'm an over sharpener. It's a therapeutic thing for me. Okay, I'm ready for the next question.

Sarah Schwartz:

It's also What are you writing on? Yeah. On a paper like, Yeah, well, just the paper. Take the I won't even say what it is. If it's very juicy, yeah. Okay. I don't approve of that question. All right. Maybe this one? Sorry. Okay. When were the very first pencils made a in the 1500s. Be in the 1600s. And see in the 1700s.

Unknown:

I'm gonna go with B, the 1600s. The oldest known pencil is, is dated to the 1600s. It was found it's currently in the aberhart or not the favorite Castile collection and it looks like a carpenter pencil kind of, but they weren't like commercially manufactured until the 1700s. So I mean, technically B is the correct answer, but I bet your answers see.

Amy Loewenberg:

I Amy gave me a Oh, she's throwing me under the bus. All right, I just pulled this off.

Sarah Schwartz:

But I I think she gave a much more.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah, we're gonna say You're right. I know you know this. What are the cores of today's pencils made with a charcoal B graphite, C led? A definitely graphite.

Sarah Schwartz:

Alright, moving right along. What does the number on a pencil indicate? A the size of the core be the weight of the core or see the hardness of the core? The hardness definitely. already said that you actually already referred to this earlier in the

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah. So you're not gonna like this question, Caroline. I'm gonna give it to you anyway. Oh, no. How tall is the biggest pencil ever made? 10 meters? 15 meters or 20 meters?

Unknown:

I think it's well, I don't even know where that I know though. And favorite Castile, Malaysia. They have a really big pencil that once was the tallest one. And I noticed there was like, there somewhere in the US like, there's a pencil that supposedly is the world's tallest pencil.

Amy Loewenberg:

It's next to the biggest rubber band ball probably.

Unknown:

Oh, in that town. Wait, we have a we have a postcard right there behind me from that town. Casey, Illinois. I have a picture of it. I could probably take it off the wall and flip it over and it would tell me the answer to this question. If that's the pencil you're referring to. I'm gonna go with Well, I don't know. I feel like it's probably 20 meters.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah. All right. All right.

Sarah Schwartz:

This is this is another one. How many English words can be written with the average console? A 25,000. b 50,000 or C 75,000. Note it does not say how many letters average?

Amy Loewenberg:

The paper or type of pencil.

Unknown:

Okay, I don't know I Where are you getting these questions? Um, I will tell you that I am currently in my shop looking at an advertisement from the 1960s that I have framed on my wall that claims that a pencil writes with exactly 16,230 words.

Amy Loewenberg:

We're definitely gonna Say that that's the right

Unknown:

answer. But again, who's coming up with these numbers? That's what I wanted out. I want I think, I need more data. I'm gonna

Amy Loewenberg:

think after this, so you can say,

Sarah Schwartz:

who tested the pencil and was like, yeah. 49,940 9996

Unknown:

Oh, that poor intern who had to write all those words. I and also how many letters are the words? What is the average number of letters in a word? I yeah, I'm, I have a lot of questions for the person who made these questions. Okay, we are we are done with these horrible questions. So we'll answer was b 50,000. Just FYI, a lot. I like your answer better.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah. Well, I mean, that word could be like an button or so who knows? Um, okay. So What year were erasers first attached to pencils? a 1850. A, B 1876. c 1902. Oh, this is the okay. So the day that we celebrate as national pencil day is the day that this patent was filed. National pencil day is March 30. So I am gone. Is it March 30? Maybe I don't remember. I know it's late March. Hyman Lippmann filed this patent. It looks nothing like the attached eraser that we know today. In fact, you look at this thing and you're like, why didn't you realize that this was easier? I'm I'm gonna go with 1856 it was 1858 You were right. 18. Oh, yeah. Whatever. I was 1850. Yeah.

Unknown:

Yeah. Okay, you're right. You're right.

Sarah Schwartz:

I feel like for civilization to have evolved, it needs to have been invented. For everything to get done that we got done. So it's

Unknown:

come a long way. Yeah, I know that the pencil and barrel I know, it took a bit other 50 years to arrive at. So it makes sense that it would have been 1850.

Sarah Schwartz:

All right. So what countries mainly use a pencil with a green exterior rather than a yellow. The choices are India and Switzerland's the United Kingdom in Argentina or Germany and Brazil.

Unknown:

That's an interesting question. I'm gonna go with Germany and Brazil because the green is like the signature color of favorite Castile, which is the biggest company in Germany and favorite Castile also has a lot of factories in South America. If you're like at a supermarket and South America and you're buying a pencil, it's probably made by fabric Estelle in a South American factory. So yeah, that's I'm gonna go with Germany and Brazil. Meaning you got it?

Amy Loewenberg:

Yes. smart woman. I know. She knows her stuff. She knows her stuff. She knows her stuff. Because this, this trivia thing, obviously. Yeah.

Unknown:

That was a hard question. I don't think there are very many people who would have gotten that question correct. Besides me. So these were good questions.

Amy Loewenberg:

I do I do. I watched your your brain process that last one which which? Which was great. We're gonna end on a very strong high note. Because you know this, why don't you tell us who invented the pencil? Watch, um, there.

Unknown:

This is another this is another one where like, I'm good. My argument is that there is no one person who invented the pencil.

Amy Loewenberg:

So I'm gonna rephrase that. Okay. Let us know who you believe. Possibly, maybe just wrote with a pencil. Okay, well,

Unknown:

I'm gonna give you I'm gonna give you two, two answers. Okay, so I'm the person who, in my opinion, and I think this is like a lot of written history, especially very old history, like there's never going to be an exact right answer, because there will always be a story that argues another point but because nothing was that documented, the person who figured out who like invented what I consider to be the modern pencil as we know it, by which they figured out that to make a strong and good pencil core you combine graphite clan, water and fire in a kiln, was a man by the name of Nicola Conte, who is French and was a hot or hot air balloon engineer before he invented the modern pencil. But in the US, apparently around the same time, Henry David Thoreau and his father john Thoreau arrived at a similar concept around the same time. I don't necessarily believe that I think they heard from somebody in Europe who was like, hey, FYI, this guy does it better than you and then they like adapted But yeah, anyway, that's my answer.

Amy Loewenberg:

Well, it's a great answer. There's confetti being flown in the air right now, because that's what I have in front of me. So yeah.

Sarah Schwartz:

Right. And it makes sense. Look, I mean, there is there is discrepancy over who invented the TV, you know, like invented in the US and Russia around the same time. Like it was just an idea. It was time and it came.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. But they say well, just generally it with pencils. Like they say that, like the Europeans invented the pencil, but Americans perfected it. That's Yeah, the general consensus around the pencil.

Amy Loewenberg:

Thank you so much for playing this game with us. We've learned a lot. I will send you the link of where I got this from just so we investigated a little bit. But before we go, why don't you share with our listeners where and how they can reach you and find you and learn about you and come to your store.

Unknown:

So you can find my physical store at 15 orchard street in New York City. We are online at CW pencils calm and on Instagram at CW pencil enterprise.

Amy Loewenberg:

Yeah, and you guys should really everybody listening should check out her website, if you can't make it to her physical store. She's got the most amazing products on it. And we are so happy that you were able to take this time with us because what you do is you've got a niche business here and you are just working the hell out of it. And so we just want to say that we celebrate you and in your zeal to celebrate the pencil. We applaud you. Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun. Thank you.

Sarah Schwartz:

Well, that was a treat. Caroline was as amazing as I imagined. I think she did really well on the quiz. I'm starting to wonder if maybe she should generate one herself. And she's certainly a font of information

Amy Loewenberg:

that it is a font of information. Pun intended. agaric Yeah, there was pretty impressive. I love the concept on focusing on an often overlooked everyday item and elevating it as she has. She's taking it further her successful pen pal program helping to unite over 300 people her own branded pencil. And of course, yes, we have to acknowledge her humorous, she definitely played along with our trivia questions that may not have been as accurate in its conception. So you're probably right, we should just have made one for us.

Sarah Schwartz:

I know apparently, you can't believe everything you find on apparently the internet a photo is right. However, her store in her shop is it really is a win win. customers love it. And it makes putting together you know, having pencils to pull it all together makes putting together a cohesive retail space brand. That much easier. And it is one of those places that just makes New York what it is. Yet, since everyone can't go to New York City, she also creates this special place online that visitors can get joyfully lost and as they pick up a pencil or two,

Amy Loewenberg:

absolutely. And perhaps the most beguiling thing about pencils. Once the bug bites you, it's hard just to stop it. Just one. So if you want to see what I mean, just visit cw pencils.com and and check it out for yourself.

Sarah Schwartz:

That's right. So that's all we've got for you today. Thank you again for joining us for chat and cocktails. Don't forget to post Instagram pics of your paper plane using the hashtags, the paper plane podcast and the paper plane cocktail hour. Amy, where can our listeners find you in the meantime? Well,

Amy Loewenberg:

you guys can always connect with me on [email protected] ny and o-w LinkedIn or email me at work. I always want to highlight our amazing community on my spotlight podcasts, and to feature on my Instagram store tours available to help connect you to new and needed resources. And of course answer any of your New York market or digital market questions. And Sarah, why don't you share how we can connect with you?

Sarah Schwartz:

Probably the best place to track me down is that the paper nerd comm you can see more fabulous stationery coverage check out my other podcast the paper falls and also access stationary trends. The industry's only award winning design driven trade quarterly. It's always a pleasure to learn more about makers and spotlight their work. If you want to connect. I'd love to hear from you.

Amy Loewenberg:

So please don't hesitate to reach out to either of us with comments questions, feedback suggestions for guests, or just to say hi and introduce yourself. And don't forget New York now is now an online 365 sourcing and connection platform. Make sure to sign up and sign in and definitely can With both Sarah and I when you do, thank you all so much. Cheers.