Hello and welcome to Pennonia!
My name is Mate Bikfalvi but just call me Matt to make things easy. My name is Hungarian so it’s a bit complicated to spell it in English in order to get the pronunciation right. I just want to write a few words to let everyone know what Pennonia is, who am I, what is the purpose of this blog; basically a general overview and presentation. Without further ado, let’s start!
Pennonia first is an online web store that sells fountain pens, inks, paper and other fountain pen related goods but secondly it’s also a blog dedicated to all things related to fountain pens and the world of fountain pens. Posts on the blog will include reviews, photo galleries, fountain pen news, news about Pennonia, about products but my goal is to also do a series of posts that try to answer questions that come up in this hobby. I don’t claim to be an expert and I’ll probably never will, but I will try to help and post useful information whenever I can!
Let’s talk a bit about myself because I think it’s important to keep in touch and be friendly with the community. I would rather like to be known as Matt, the guy who owns Pennonia, than Pennonia being some faceless web shop like almost all found around the internet. I’m currently 28 years old and I live in Carei, Romania. Yes, Romania. I studied English Language and Literature and finished my Master’s at the University of Debrecen in Hungary. I’m currently working as an English teacher both in a public school, kindergarten and in my own company called Conversa where I teach groups kindergarten aged children.
I always liked fountain pens even as a child and I remember to this day how excited I was when I got my first fountain pen in the 1st grade. It was a cheap Chinese pen, glossy golden barrel and cap with a black grip section, a hooded nib and a squeeze converter. Back then we also had a class called “Handwriting” (literally “Beautiful Handwriting”) where we learned to write or rather draw the letters correctly and neatly. Naturally those who had ugly handwriting or were not able to correct it later on got a slightly worse grade than those who had pretty handwriting. I still used fountain pens throughout middle school and then completely abandoned them in high school. My interest started up again after I have finished my Bachelor’s Degree. I joined Reddit (you can find me on reddit, my reddit username is /u/pennonia) previously and stumbled upon some neat subbreddits like /r/PenmanshipPorn, /r/Handwriting and of course /r/fountainpens. There I started to see all these awesome pens and in a few days later I placed my first order at Amazon.de for a Lamy Logo with an M nib. When I received it I was so excited, it came with a blue Lamy cartridge and a converter. That was when I first saw a twist converter (piston converter?) and found it to be quite innovative since I only thought that squeeze converters and cartridges were all there was. Since then my collection has come a long way, I have quite a lot of pens (I’ll do a separate post about my collection later) and even more ink. This passion for pens, inks and handwriting later turned into what is Pennonia.
I started Pennonia since I have always dreamed about owning a pen shop or a watch shop. The problem is that Carei is a really small town and we Romanians don’t really like to pay a lot of money for things, so it is impossible to open a real life fountain pen store in Carei and rely on that only as the sole income for your business. I didn’t want to do be just another general stationary store to stay afloat (we already have way to many of them in Carei anyway). The other thing is that while fountain pens are used in schools extensively, I don’t really have knowledge about a fountain pen enthusiast community existing in Romania. It probably does exist, but it is so small I doubt we could have an active forum where members post daily. So going back to the reasons why Pennonia turned from a dream to reality. I had literally everything planned out already, did my research on what products and brands I wanted to carry for months before finally committing to it. The thing that finally pushed me over will sound stupid but here it is: I wanted to buy a Col-o-Ring but it was too expensive to get it to Europe so I figured why not create a product that fills this niche in Europe? That’s how I came up with the Pennonia Tintenbuch (more on it later in another post).
So now I have a product that is unique to me on the continent and I’m pumped to see how everything goes with Pennonia. There were and still are a lot of challenges that I need(ed) to face; it turns out that opening a web shop is pretty hard work. Pennonia currently and for the foreseeable future will be a web shop which focuses on Europe, European fountain pen lovers and the European market but naturally the Pennonia blog doesn’t care about borders. I’m just one guy and shipping internationally is an accounting and customs nightmare in Romania, not to mention that shipping prices are horrible anyway. As a new company you’ll get the worst rates available and basically nobody will give a discount or some will even ignore you because you can’t promise them you’ll send at least 50, or a 100 packages in a month. That I believe is one of the biggest challenges to overcome since shipping price is one of the most important things to a customer. I know, I buy a lot of stuff online as well.
Now my goal with this blog is to provide proper reviews of inks, fountain pens, notebooks etc. I also plan on doing a number of articles on the challenges of starting an online business for starters and then I’ll see later on how the blog develops. I already have quite a lot of ideas on what could be posted that would be interesting and unique however I believe that everything has to have a well thought out plan otherwise you’ll just look clumsy and will probably mess up. Heck if I do a review/week I already have enough material for years to come. I swear I have too much ink and pens. There’s this meme that says “Teach your kids to ride a motorcycle and they’ll never have money for drugs”. It could probably be adapted to any hobby but I find it to be appropriate especially for fountain pens. You’ll always have that craving for that awesome Montblanc, Pelikan or Namiki and no matter how many awesome Chinese pens you get, that itch will never be scratched.
I think I’ve written enough, thanks for reading all the way through! If you have any questions please contact me or leave a comment below.
If you’re interested you can check out our Facebook page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pennonia/