A couple of years ago I interviewed Tony Short who had just started Pocket Notebooks, a company that rather unsurprisingly sold notebooks that would fit in your pocket. Pocket Notebooks is now owned by Stuart Lennon and has been rebranded as Nero’s Notes, Nero being the four-legged CEO of this new company. Nero’s Notes’ inventory is impressive and they are an excellent source of a wide range of Field Notes and Calepino notebooks, amongst many others. They are particularly championing the burgeoning UK notebook scene. If you’re in the UK (and even if you’re not) it’s well worth taking a look. What they’re doing is quite exciting and so I was keen to talk to Stuart to find out more.
Nero’s Notes have sent me some notebooks to review and you’ll see these reviews appearing over the next month or two. However, I asked Stuart for this interview and it’s not part of any sponsorship.
Stuart describes himself as “a child of the 70’s. British (every part!) but a nomad.” As he has spoken about on 1857, the podcast he does with T J Cosgrove, he’s lived in many far flung places and used to work in “money”. Having had his interest in “analogue” re-awakened by his friend Amanda Fleet, “I used Daytimers, Filofaxes and fell deep into the rabbit-hole.” Following the maxim, “Do something you love, and you will never work another day in your life” Stuart jumped feet first into the hobby he liked so much and bought the company.
I asked Stuart how he used pen and paper.
I carry a notebook always. I use it as a capture device – and often transcribe things into other notebooks. I use a diary for time-blocking. I keep a journal. I write all my content in long hand first, I write letters – and I play with books and pens all the time.
Stuart has some clear ideas about the challenges and opportunities the online stationery retail business has to offer.
Stationery is best sold in person. The look, feel and even smell of stationery is intoxicating. Right now, that is tough to convey online. To build a sustainable business, the reach provided by the internet is essential. Marry those two things. . .
The opportunities. The artists, designers, manufacturers and collectors of stationery are gaining confidence and are incredible people. Full of creativity and joy. It grows. . . The market is evolving at an increasing rate.
As for Nero’s Notes, “We are still a start-up. We make no profit. In the short term, the business will stand on its own two feet and be self-sustaining. In the long term, we will continue to share wonderful stationery with wonderful people.”
As for the real driving force behind the business, Nero himself, is he hard to work for?
He is slowing down a bit now, the old fella. However, he keeps me on my toes.
Of course no Pens! Paper! Pencils! interview would be complete without a question about favourite pens.
I’m still learning about pens – and so my favourites are changing all of the time. I have several MB from my ‘corporate cobra’ days.
Custom 823 is pretty special. Then, I got my first stub nib. . . on a TWSBI 580AL. Just recently, I picked up my first Platinum. I have moved from medium nibs, to broad, to double broad to stub. I love flow – and I’m now angling for Pelikan and Sailor.
That said – in my back pocket is a Schon DSGN rollerball.
Thank you so much to Stuart for taking the time to answer my questions! Don’t forget to take a few moments to look at Nero’s Notes.