Field Trip: Write Notepads and Co.

Field Trip: Write Notepads and Co.

About a year and a half ago, I found out about Write Notepads & Co, a notebook company based in Baltimore, and I became a bit obsessed for a couple reasons: I love to support small, local businesses and I love paper. When I found their products at Trohv, a shop in the Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore, I bought a wire-bound notebook with a retro Baltimore design on the front. I was itching to use it right away but opted to make it my travel journal while in Europe this spring.

Write Notepads, Write Notepads and Co, notebooks, paper, stationery, Baltimore
The Baltimore edition of Write Notepads & Co notebook was my travel journal while I was in Europe for a month. Pen: Diplomat Traveller Lumi ballpoint.

Back in March I was working at the Baltimore Washington International Pen Show, and when I found out Write Notepads was coming I totally geeked out. During vendor registration, I worked the front desk, on the lookout for the Write Notepads team…but missed meeting company founder Chris Rothe by minutes.

Later that weekend, I stopped by their table and fangirled all over him and his products. Chris is a gregarious, congenial dude who has great passion for high quality products – plus he’s a generous guy. We got the requisite selfie, he gave me a Goldfield Limited Edition notebook set and said I could come by the shop anytime for a tour.

Write Notepads, Chris Rothe, Pensplaining with Corinne, notebooks, paper, Baltimore, pen show, BWIPS2018, Baltimore pen show
Chris Rothe of Write Notepads and me, looking all edgy and cool. Taken at the 2018 Baltimore Washington International Pen Show

In between my schedule and his work load, it took a few months to arrange for that tour, but last week I finally made it over to the Write Notepads shop. It’s located in the Allied Binding Company headquarters, not far from Ravens Stadium. As Chris walked me through the warehouse to the Write Notepads offices, he pointed out the machines used for the big print jobs for local unions. Bookbinding is the family business, and Chris, his dad and his brother all spend their days printing everything from training manuals to brochures. Write Notepads’ production typically happens after 4 pm, when Chris can focus on the side gig that’s turned into a successful business since its inception in 2011.

We got to the office, popped open a couple beers, and talked for several hours about everything from Baltimore life to politics, from being a small business in a niche market to passion for pens & paper.

Write Notepads, notebooks, bookbinding, notepads, Baltimore

My favorite moment was when Chris took me into the stock room. It’s small, but oh so mighty: the shelves were chock full of their notebooks, including limited edition pocket notebooks, stationery pads, reporter’s notepads with NOT YOUR ENEMY printed on the back, and the city series wirebound notebooks. I could have stayed in there all night, fondling the notebooks, but that would have been weird. Right?

Write Notepads, notebooks, Baltimore
Write Notepads stock room. I walked in and said, “I want to hug this wall.”

 

Write Notepads, notebooks, pocket notebooks, Baltimore
Pocket size notebooks.

 

Write Notepads, notebooks, wirebound notebooks, Baltimore
City series wirebound notebooks. There’s ones for DC, Baltimore, Annapolis…and a whole collection for the 5 boroughs in New York (not shown).

While we chatted, Chris printed some covers for the new meeting notebook that will be released before year end. He’s got a couple Heidelberg Windmill printing presses that do the heavy lifting for Write Notepads.

Write Notepads, notebooks, meeting notebooks, Baltimore, printing
An early prototype of Write Notepads Meeting Notebook.

The presses are over 50 years old and can be temperamental. I offered to play some old school R&B on my phone to mellow out the machines if the print run went all wonky. Everyone knows a little Barry White and Marvin Gaye makes it all better. Fortunately the printing went well, with just a couple small glitches.

Write Notepads, notebooks, notepads, bookbinding, paper, Baltimore
Chris preps the Heidelberg for a print run.

 

Some quick facts about Chris and Write Notepads:

  • Chris is a long-time fountain pen fan, but he also loves Blackwing pencils, Staedtler markers, even a nice ballpoint.
  • He’s good buddies with many folks in the pen/paper community and credits the late Jim Rouse, manager of the Baltimore location of Bertram’s Inkwell for 15 years, for his role in getting him started with fountain pens.
  • Write Notepads works with four different paper manufacturers for its notebooks and pads, all of them USA-based.
  • Chris and his team test all the papers to ensure they will work well with different writing tools, whether pencil, ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen. Read more about their process here.
  • Write Notepads primarily sells direct to consumers. Chris carefully selects any retailers who want to carry Write Notepads products.
  • He’s made personalized notebooks for beloved locals, such as now-former Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Several TV and print journalists, plus celebrities Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Hanks, are avid users of Write Notepads products.
  • Write Notepads donates several thousand notebooks to Baltimore City schools every year.
  • Most popular item? The Reporter’s Notepad.

Many thanks to Chris for letting me come hang out with him in the shop. I’m sure I’ll be back soon…that wall of notebooks is the happiest place on earth. He also breaks out the good whiskey if you ask nicely.

When I said fall is whiskey drinking weather, Chris broke out the Pikesville Supreme white label rye whiskey. So smooth.
Write Notepads, notebooks, notepads, paper, whiskey tasting journal, whiskey tasting, whiskey, Baltimore
Coming soon: a whiskey tasting journal.

Visit them online at writepads.com.



2 thoughts on “Field Trip: Write Notepads and Co.”

  • great post – found you through a link on writepad’s instagram – i love their products too. just picked up a meeting notebook at Bertram’s pen show 😃

    • Awesome! I ended up repping for Write Notepads at the pen fair, so we may well have met. I’ve been using a prototype of the Meeting Notebook and love it.

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