Research undertaken by Washington University shows that if you hand-write something you are three times more likely to remember it,” says Sally Page.

Sally is a bit of a writing obsessive, noticing it in books: “The way Daphne du Maurier describes the handwriting in Rebecca,” she enthuses, and reading up on the benefits of this form of communication.

“People are far more likely to keep letters and cards, they mark the passage of time, unlike a email which someone might just delete,” she says.

No surprise, then, that she is now selling hand-crafted fountain pens from her home in Gillingham.

What is different is that all of them are inspired by a woman in her life. From her daughter - the best-selling novelist Libby Page - to a teacher, to a businesswoman friend ‘with a thing about red shoes’, each pen has its own little back-story.

Sally’s lightbulb moment came in 2012.

“I wanted a new fountain pen but couldn’t find anything to buy that I actually desired; snug and weighty in my hand and in a colour that wasn’t black, or burgundy, or navy blue,” she remembers. “When I did come across coloured ones they seemed a bit plasticky and I just felt I wanted my pen to be something beautiful, like aubergine or pistachio.”

As the photographer behind the famous series of flower-shop books, based on life around the Ted Martin florists in Tisbury in Wiltshire, she already had an eye for design. "I wanted to apply that to a business I could run from home," she says.

She’d read about Julie Deane who started The Cambridge Satchel Company. "Julie said she’d sat down at her kitchen table and come up with ten business ideas," says Sally. I remember thinking ‘I only need one'.”

Sally scribbled down her Big Idea: exquisite fountain pens that wouldn’t cost the earth that people would enjoy using again and again - and Plooms was born.

She busied herself with her designs, paying particular attention to the cap – hers are nib-shaped – the nib itself and the overall look, and searched for a UK manufacturer to produce them but the unit price was too high: “I wanted to sell at below £60.” Eventually she found a family manufacturing firm in China. She believes this is no coincidence as she regards the Chinese as ‘a nation of calligraphers’.

What really sets Plooms pens aside, of course, are their colours, which were originally inspired by individual women. Libby Page Pink was named after her daughter, Libby, author of last summer's bestseller 'The Lido'. ‘Mrs Oliver’s High Heel Red’ was inspired by a businesswoman friend who has a penchant for red shoes and ‘Miss Pickering Purple’ is named after a florist Sally knows.

Since the business started in 2013, the five original colours have expanded to include 12 colours grouped into collections; Bright and Beautiful, Smokey Nightshades, and Being British, featuring pens in brilliant red, white and blue.

“Older people tend to say that ‘no one writes’ any more but younger women completely get it because they are embracing journals, and calligraphy and beautiful stationery is enjoying a revival,” she says. So much so that her website hosts a short video of tips on how to write more beautifully, which she devised after realising that her own handwriting was ‘awful’.

“I practise for ten minutes a day with one of my pens and now I like my writing,” she says.

It is the physicality of writing in pen and ink, she says, which makes the act so irresistible, and recalls a letter she saw in a museum, which had been written by Queen Elizabeth I to her lover, Leicester. “They both must have touched it, with their own hand, and for me, that’s what does it,” she declares. “I’ve discovered that fountain pens are rather like flower shops in that they are both actually about people.”

She tells the tale of an elderly lady who approached her at a fair. “She said that when she was young, her parents just went away and left her looking after her younger brothers,” says Sally.

“She told me she used to go to school, come home and cook the dinner for them and saved up out of her housekeeping money to buy each brother a fountain pen for Christmas.”

The lady went to visit one of the brothers in Canada who is now in his fifties and, she told Sally: “He didn’t say anything, just got out his fountain pen and wrote the words; ‘We remember what you did’.”

No wonder, then, she lives by the motto: “You never forget receiving your first fountain pen or the person who gave it to you.”



T: 07881 348609