Quivers are traditionally used to carry arrows. But not in this case. These days there's not much call for arrow-holders outside of archery clubs, but there is certainly a call for somewhere stylish to store a pen or two. Not slung over your back in the usual quiver style, it must be said; that would be overkill. No, modern-day Quivers are designed to be strapped securely to your notebook or tablet instead.
So what's the story? Well, it all began five years ago with two good friends - Gene, a talented industrial designer and Bob Koch, a seasoned sales and marketing professional. One Saturday morning, instead of washing their cars or bracing themselves for the weekly grocery shop, they decided to hole up in a conference room with a whiteboard for company and see if they could uncover an 'unmet need': something that lots of people could do with but which didn't yet exist. Three hours later the board was covered with lots of everyday problems that might offer a new product potential. Excitedly, Bob and Gene pulled out their notebooks - and realised that neither of them had a pen handy. It was a serendipitous moment. As Bob puts it: 'Suddenly we realised there was one additional real world unmet need that hadn't yet made it to the whiteboard of ideas, a product that would allow a notebook user to always have their favourite pen handy when inspiration struck.'
Many millions of notebooks are sold throughout the world each year - Bob and Gene's research suggested more than 130 million - but not one of the manufacturers had any product that would pair pen to notebook. Aha! A gap in the market… Bob and Gene themselves were fed up dealing with the Case of the Disappearing Pen, and reasoned that there were probably a fair few others who were, too. They had their 'unmet need'; now all they had to do was meet it. The solution had to be simple, elegant and above all, affordable. Or nobody would buy it.
So Gene and Bob went into action. They tested a multitude of materials and considered dozens of different design ideas, eventually coming up with seven possibilities. But which one would be the best? The only way to find out was to take a deep breath and ask the very people for whom these were intended - notebook users.
And the notebook aficionados had their say: the best designs - from a user perspective - were chosen and the preferred material was 100% American leather. Even a price point was developed.
All well and good. But who was going to actually make these pen holders? The designs were beautifully simple, but because leather was the chosen material (and quite rightly so), it wasn't the sort of thing you could throw together in your spare bedroom on your average sewing machine. A leather manufacturer was needed.
Cue Saddleback Leather, whose tagline 'They'll fight over it when you're dead' sort of says it all, really! So confident are they of their products they offer an astonishing 100 year warranty on everything they make, and so confident were they of the potential success of Bob and Gene's idea that they offered to pitch in and manufacture the fledgling pen holders using the same leather craftsmen who hand-assemble all Saddleback's products. Several phone calls determined the best grade of leather (full-grain: the sort that isn't subjected to buffing in order to remove imperfections); the source (cows, obviously, but particularly those grazed without the need for barbed wire fencing which can damage hides); and even which thread to use (heavy marine grade).
And the result? Beautifully made, eminently practical, nice-smelling Quivers! Their resemblance to their namesake goes so far as being longer than they are wide, and being made of animal skin (well, most of them are anyway: there is a vegan option made from ballistic nylon). But that's where it stops. You don't have to be of Native American origin or be able to ride a horse or have a rather strange-sounding name to use a Quiver; you just need to be passionate about your pens and be of a mind not to like losing them.
Like Saddleback, Quiver stand wholeheartedly behind their product, and consequently offer a no-questions-asked returns policy. They love their product, and want you to love it, too. And if you don't love it quite enough, they need to know why. They are always on the look-out for the next 'unmet need' and are enthusiastic about listening to, and learning from their customers.
These sturdy, stylish pen holders are now available from Cult Pens in single- and double-pen styles, in black or brown leather (as well as the aforementioned ballistic nylon), and with a choice of coloured stitching, so there's bound to be at least one that'll match your favourite notebook. As Quiver say, 'think of it as insurance for your favourite pen'.
7 July 2015