Reviving the Blackwing: One Year In
Saturday October 1st will mark the first anniversary of the “rebirth” of the Blackwing pencil brand with our Palomino Blackwing pencil. This was followed in June by our introduction of the Palomino Blackwing 602 model, which more closely replicated the look, feel and performance of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil. We’ve been fortunate to see early success with these efforts and a growing following of happy and dedicated customers on Pencils.com, and increasing interest from dealers and retail trade to stock Blackwings as well. Certainly, we cannot yet claim a big commercial and financial success and any accumulating sales margins are being reinvested in further development of the business. However, the progress is encouraging and we are continuing to push forward in our day by day efforts towards these goals.Naturally at such symbolic occasions as an anniversary or birthday one tends to contemplate various events that lead to the current conditions or state of mind we find ourselves in; be those events and circumstances positive, negative, fortuitous, unlucky, results of poor decisions or just hard earned. So I thought I’d share a number of my key thoughts on this topic as we look back at what brought us to this point.Much of the history and our motivation for re-launching the Blackwing Brand I covered in this early post and others in my “Reviving the Blackwing” series last year. There is much I could add to this going back through some of the history of the development of our first Pencils.com e-commerce shop and our original Palomino pencil range which were essential early steps. Having the old platform of the Incense Cedar Institute Pencil Pages on the pencils.com URL of course gave us a good start at getting our products seen by quite a few visitors reviewing our early Story of Pencils educational content. However, in essence, it was really listening to the frequent suggestions of our customers requesting our Palomino pencil with the replaceable eraser with the ferrule assembly design of the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 that we determined to move forward.As we prepared to launch our new pencil we initially intended to call it the “Palomino Pegasus”. I even had written some early marketing material expounding on the legend of Pegasus landing upon Mt. Helicon and loosening the rock from which sprung forth the Hippocrene spring. This spring is where the Muses gathered and was believed to be the source of their poetic inspiration. Thus by association our new Palomino Pegasus pencils would be a catalyst of artistic expression. However, we then learned that Newell (Sanford) had allowed the Blackwing trademark to lapse and so through good fortune and quick action we filed for and claimed the rights and instead launched our pencil as the Palomino Blackwing. It’s often been erroneously reported over the past year that we purchased the Blackwing trademark. However this has been the result of a mistaken assumption by a few who misunderstood the meaning of the phrase “acquired the trademark” where the word acquire is not specific as to the means of coming into possession of something.Perhaps the most important aspect of our success to date however is the strong support of our customers and sharing of the Blackwing story. Certainly we’ve worked hard to cultivate and promote the story of the original Blackwing and have benefited greatly by some wonderful PR exposure from Boston Globe, Boing Boing, a host of pencil bloggers, Fortune Magazine, NewYorker.com and many other websites and blogs that just like to share cool stuff. So we are greatly appreciative of all the support, feedback and in some cases even criticism that we’ve received from our customers and others over the past year. One of my key aspirations for all our efforts has been to spur a re-engagement of as many people as possible with the wood-cased pencil and an appreciation for what a true quality pencil is. In a sense to make pencils more cool and fun. In our continuing efforts to listen and respond to your feedback we didn’t stop with the initial version. We redesigned a new Palomino Blackwing 602 model to satisfy those customers looking for a pencil with both design and functional writing performance of the original Eberhard Faber version. The response to our 602 model has been even greater and we are seeing and hearing more from those of you who are rediscovering the joy of writing with a real high quality smooth graphite pencil whether it’s a Blackwing or another of your favorite models.Through the telling of the Blackwing story and our new Studio 602 content we continue to focus on bringing light to a range of creative expression and to provide inspiration for you to use the Blackwing to initiate the process of executing your creative ideas whatever they may be. Ultimately, despite the name change from Pegasus to Blackwing we still hope our pencils and other new products can be that catalyst for executing on your creative expression and thus view the developing Palomino Blackwing range as “More than a Pencil”.Finally, as we approach the 1st Birthday of the Palomino Blackwing we are celebrating by launching on Pencils.com today our new range of Blackwing folio, notebooks and sketchbooks. This is a natural next step in the evolution of the Blackwing brand into a broader creative experience. The expanding Blackwing range is accompanied also with new notebook and sketchbook offerings in our Palomino and ForestChoice ranges as well. We are truly excited about these new items and hope that you will be as well. We look forward to your future feedback and participation as we strive to build the Blackwing into a truly creative and fun. Thanks so much for your past and continuing support.