Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Web Secret #325: Bespoke

I am going to share something very personal with you.

I have big hands. I wear size 9 gloves.

Since women's gloves are only available in, (at most,) a size 8 and a half, for years I was relegated to buying men's gloves. Men's gloves are clunky, boring and only come in black, brown and tan. I was unhappy.

Sometimes I forget that the Internet exists. And then I remember, "Wait a minute, I can do a search to find a company that makes bespoke leather gloves for women."

Hello signature leather!

They make custom gloves in my size, in any color combination I can dream up. Winter gloves, driving gloves, walking-the-dog gloves. For under $200. And if I am not delighted with the fit or the color - I just send them back - until they get it right. The customer service is top-notch.

Made to measure gloves! I feel like Queen Victoria. (Somewhat appropriate since the company is British.)

The Internet is an empire of bespoke opportunities at every price point, and in every retail category.

Case in point: I am a huge pen nerd - I went to a French Lycée where I learned how to write with a fountain pen on Séyès ruled notebooks.

I couldn't find them in the U.S., so that was that. Decades went by. Until a few months ago when I entered "seyes ruled notebook" in a Google search window and BAM! up came the Goulet Pen Company, a Mom and Pop online shop headquartered in a small town in Virginia.

They pretty much sell only three things: notebooks, fountain pens, and inks. And the Clairefontaine Séyès notebooks of my childhood!

In addition, for years, I had been looking for that elusive animal, an inexpensive pen that writes like a $300 Pelikan with a 14k gold nib. The Goulet folks sell the Jinhao x750, a Chinese fountain pen that has the heft of a serious writing instrument and costs under $10! They make their own steel nibs in a variety of types and sizes for $15 each. At my request, they installed one of their custom nibs on a Jinhao body and voila! my dream pen - it writes smooth as silk.

This little company pays supreme attention to detail. Even an $8.00 notebook is carefully wrapped so that it arrives in pristine condition. Every package includes a note, a book mark and a Tootsie Pop Miniature. Everytime they send me something, it's Christmas in July!


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