2016 was quite a year for us. Let's face it, it was quite a year for most people really! At Cult Pens we had some wins, some setbacks, and some setbacks that turned out in hindsight to be blessings. That's business. Despite the various dramas, it's been another record year for us, and though not wanting this to sound like an Oscars speech, we thought we should send out a few words of thanks to some people.
Firstly, to our customers. Yep, that's you! Thank you for supporting our business and helping us to go from strength to strength. We're a small company sitting in a tiny corner of the internet doing our best, and we appreciate that you continue to choose to buy from us. In 2016 we shipped to over 100 countries, from Albania and Brunei, through the Cayman Islands and Guadeloupe, to Martinique, the Seychelles and the United States, so we'd like to send a special shout-out to our friends from overseas. We love you all and yes, we still get a childish thrill when packaging up orders to such far-flung places as Azerbaijan, Colombia, the Faroe Islands, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico and Réunion.
We have a few simple company goals that we won't bore you with - no matter what you do they tend to sound a mixture of corporate/mad/insincere/toe-curling. Fortunately they pretty much boil down to: 'sell pens; be nice'. Supporting those less fortunate than ourselves comes under the 'be nice' bit, and it's thanks to you, our customers, that we can do this. You've all seen the appeal we ran this year to support Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. We're proud to announce that between Uni-ball and ourselves we've raised over £2,000 for GOSH.
We also support local charities. We've worked with the Tiverton Market Centre, run by the inspirational Julie, for a few years now. It's a fantastic place where every young person really matters. We sent them some vouchers in December to help for Christmas and they were overwhelmed:
'I don’t even know where to start with thanking you for the parcel I received yesterday. As you are aware our funding is quite concerning at the minute, although we are still trying very hard to put ourselves in a better position. Your kindness has meant that I can make sure that each young person leaves here on the party day with a little something. I was trying to work out how I was going to cater for everyone on the very small budget that I had, then your parcel turned up.
'Wishing you and your wonderful team a lovely Christmas and if your year has been anything like mine, a very drunken New Year!!'
It's very humbling to receive messages like this, and it's thanks to your continued support that we can continue to support Julie, so thanks again. It re-emphasised to us that, although it may not be a massive amount of money or support we give, it can make a real difference to people.
Secondly, thanks go to our suppliers. We now deal with over 50 of them and have built great relationships with many of them over the years we've been operating. We asked Matt and Mark, who place all our orders, who they would vote for as the 'Supplier of the Year'. After much deliberation, they decided to vote for Pentel. Diamine were up there once again, as well as Uni Mitsubishi, but they went with Pentel for their responsiveness and the information they supply in helping us manage our orders.
Congratulations Pentel and thank you for all your support. Sorry no prize!
We feel the wonderful LIHIT Lab also deserve a mention, not only for the fantastic products, but just the sheer joy of dealing with them. When we told them we were putting some new products live they replied: 'Thank you so much!!! It was a really nice Christmas Present for us!'
We've started building relationships with some new suppliers and brands this year too:
Thirdly, to our staff. Last month, you met Michael. If only we could clone Michael the world would be a better, happier (although sometimes more confused) place. But there's a whole team in addition to Michael who work hard to get your orders to you.
As a regular (we hope) customer of ours, you're probably aware of our commitment to get our orders out as speedily as possible. If you order by 3pm, we'll try and get your order out on the same day. Simple statement it may be, but sometimes it's not simple to achieve. We have a small but dedicated warehouse team (the professionals) headed by Lindsey that includes Lynn, Tammy, Becky, Mike and Matthew. During really busy times, the cavalry gets called in: Nick (graphics), Anna (marketing), Martin (accounts), and Mark and Matt from purchasing. Let's not forget the Customer Service team (Louise, Amy and Beth) headed by Helen. Between them, they send an average of 83 emails a day, and there have been times when they've sent over 200! All this, as well as answering the phones and popping downstairs to pick when they can.
Even during quieter days, our staff are always busy working out better ways of doing things, setting up new products (we now have nearly 17,000!), working with our suppliers, our customers, setting up offers, unpacking deliveries and sorting out our accounts. This has always been a *busy* place to work.
We know we're doing something right by our Trustpilot reviews - we now have over 30,000, and 96.9% are 5 star. For those of you who have left a Trustpilot review, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. It really does mean a lot to all of us.
Things are constantly changing around here and we think one of our strengths is our flexibility and ability to change. A big thank you to all our staff who have worked so hard to have made this year so successful and so special.
Lastly, thanks must go to our products. Yes, we know the pens don't have feelings (although listening to some of our staff talk about their favourite pens, you'd think they did), but if it wasn't for the wonderful products we sell, we wouldn't have a business, so we think they *do* deserve a shout out. We asked everyone if they had any ideas for a 'Product of the Year'. The rules were a bit vague, and it wasn't really clear whether it should be a new product for 2016 or just new to us. Anyway, the nominations were:
We don't yet sell crystal balls, so who knows what 2017 will bring. It's certainly going to be another interesting one, but with your support, we're ready for it.
Happy New Year everyone!
Amanda & Simon Walker
11 January 2017