Trade Supply Co was started in 2013 by a group of like minded individuals who believed something was lacking in retail for men in Oklahoma City. We began with the simple idea to find unique, epic products that couldn’t be found at big box retailers. That vision began with us seeking out small, independent makers and grew to encompass our own product lines. We had become an experience based retail store. A community grew up around us as guests became friends and friends became family. They sought us out time and again to experience that feeling that old time mariners must have felt, the feeling of discovery and wonder when unearthing a long lost treasure.
One of the items we began creating held a special, personal place to us, our leather journal covers. Journaling promotes a healthy relay of thoughts, it is a way to write out a problem and by your own hand write out the solution. All of the employees of TRADE Supply Co. are current or former military, and journaling was part of therapy we had taken up during our recovery and reintegration process. To compliment our journals, we also found an everyday carry (EDC) pen that was a perfect match and we actually incorporated the pen into the design as the notebook’s closure. The pens came from a maker in California and they quickly became a staple of our shop. This brass, bolt-action EDC pen was so popular, it covered the shop’s overhead for a month, by itself. We knew we had a great thing with these pens and journal covers.
This year has been difficult for small businesses nationwide, and a few months ago we were notified by our manufacturer in California that they were shutting down for the foreseeable future. True to our nature, we sprang into action and began looking for a way to produce the pen ourselves. We struck up a conversation with some friends of ours that owned a machine shop. Due to the downturn in the economy, they had a decreased workload and this seemed like a great opportunity to stimulate our own local economy. Working with a local maker was a game changer. It allowed us to talk through the design process, make changes when they were needed, and we could stop in easily and check on the progress. The fact that we were able to help out a friend and bring business to our community is a bonus we can’t stress enough. We took many of the aspects we appreciated about version one and added a few of our own modifications.
First and foremost, the pen had to perform its primary function, it had to write. Not only did it have to write, it had to write well and in any situation a person could find themselves in. To accomplish this, we went with the Space Pen Ink Cartridge from Fisher. After function we wanted to focus on form, this needed to be an aesthetically pleasing piece that fit our theme of rugged sophistication. We chose brass for a multitude of reasons, it is naturally antimicrobial, it’s visually striking, and it has a satisfying weight. Brass is also used on Navy ships and gains a beautiful patina with age. It reminds us that no matter how beat up we get, with a little elbow grease you can always bring back that natural shine. We stuck to the bolt-action mechanism for version two. Not only does it continue the theme of go anywhere, do anything with its secure no slip slide, but it also calls back to our military heritage. As a bonus, it provides an extremely pleasing kinesthetic feel that can double as a fidget device for nervous thinkers. Lastly, we wanted our pen to do more, we wanted it to save lives. We gave the pen a removable glass breaker, a literal life saver when you need it. We knew, from the previous version, that a glass breaker isn’t allowed everywhere so with 2.0 we included a flat cap that can be used instead, and we added a keychain hole to both so you’d always be prepared.
We thought through every detail in our new pen. It has form, it has function and it stays true to us and our brand. A life saving device that allows free expression of thoughts and ideas, sounds like the most important every day carry item you could possess, don’t you agree?