A recent JMU grad is looking to write his next chapter with a startup pen company.
Local resident Michael Hyland late last year launched Turning Point Pen Co., which crafts and sells handmade roller and fountain pens.
Hyland said his interest in the business dates back to a shop class he took in middle school where he learned to make wooden pens.
Holding onto that skill as a pastime over the years, his idea to turn it into a business was nudged further by a comment from a friend leading up to graduation from JMU, where he played goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team.
“A friend of mine told me, ‘All I want my parents to buy me for graduation is a really nice fountain pen,’” Hyland said. “I thought, ‘well what if I could make it?’”
Since graduating in 2015, he continued practicing the craft and selling pens at occasional events, while working in marketing full-time in Washington, D.C.
He went full-time into pens in December, launching Turning Point’s online store and selling pens at local art gallery Chasen Galleries in Carytown, as well as Larkin Arts, a gallery in Harrisonburg.
Hyland makes the pens at a workshop in Hanover. He puts the raw materials into a lathe, a machine akin to a potter’s wheel that spins the material as he carves it.
It takes about four hours to make each pen.
“I hope to, at some point, get a decent-size shop in town where people can come, see me making the pens, maybe host classes and events,” Hyland said.
Turning Point’s pens feature a variety of embellishments such as 24-karat gold plating, Swarovski crystals and acrylic resin bodies. They range from $145 to $300.
Hyland said he also makes custom pens on commission.
The new business is a change of pace from Hyland’s background in marketing.
“It’s exposed me to the fountain pen community, which is a niche in itself, but it’s a big one,” he said. “It’s exposed me to different ways people are writing.”