At the 2016 Washington D.C. Fountain Pen SuperShow, three separate people urged me to check out a new pen making venture out of Hawaii called Kanilea Pen Co. At the table, I met the family team of Hugh and Karol Scher, and Karol’s son, Matt Baldwin, who told me that the information I received was both right and wrong: Kanilea is based out of the greater D.C. area, but it is inspired by the landscape and spirit of the Hawaiian Islands.
Only one year old, Kanilea is already making a name for itself. All credit for that goes to the Schers and their ability to combine genuine warmth with utter professionalism. Both have serious day jobs— Karol is a communications director for the standards and ethics division of a large membership association, and Hugh is an IT and enterprise architect. The two grew up in the Chicagoland area and moved to Washington D.C. with Matt in 1989.
Kanilea was born during the couple’s 25th anniversary trip to Hawaii—their favorite destination. Looking around at the landscape, feeling the spirit of the islands, the two longtime pen enthusiasts came up with their passion project. “We would handcraft fine writing instruments that capture and express paradise, both in physical location and state of mind,” Karol says.
Easier said than done, as ideas like ‘ohana (family), pono (living harmoniously with the environment), and aloha (a sense of oneness