It was back in 2007 when the idea of Sherpa was first born. At the time our family owned some pen stores around the country and it almost seemed like clockwork that each month a customer would come into one of our stores and ask an associate if we, “have a Montblanc that will hold a Sharpie.” Quite honestly the first few times we heard the request we thought they were crazy. I mean a Montblanc that would fit a Sharpie?!?!
Well as the old saying goes, if you hear something enough times eventually you start to believe it. After hearing this same request time and time again we decided that maybe there was something to it and we should take a closer look. After all, there is nothing else out there that writes like a Sharpie and the fine pen market didn’t have anything comparable to a Sharpie marker (and still doesn’t, other than the Sherpa of course).
Once we had committed ourselves to the project we began to work with designers and factories to determine what it would really take to make a fine pen that held a Sharpie inside. We went through a multitude of different concepts and actually became quite discouraged as most of the concepts would become comically large once you saw them in person. We certainly didn’t want our pen to resemble something like the marker-cover on the show Survivor that is closer to the size of a tree branch. As such, we kept re-designing the pen and trimming every mm that we could until finally we ended up with the pen known today as the Classic Sherpa.
Now there’s another old saying that we like to use around here that, “it’s better to be lucky than good”. This cliché simply could not be more spot on than when it comes to the Sherpa. Originally our idea was to make a cover that would hold a fine point Sharpie, nothing more, nothing less. Given that there are over 2 million Sharpie markers produced every day this seemed to be a more than sizable enough market for us to focus on.
Well, funny things happen and one day when we were playing with the Sherpa prototypes an employee decided to see if they could put a Uni-Ball Vision Elite roller ball into the pen for fun. Figuring that it was nothing more than an exercise in futility we sat around watching them insert the Vision Elite fully expecting it to either rattle around or have other compatibility issues. To our collective surprise, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite fit absolutely perfectly! It was literally like we had designed the Sherpa, not for the Sharpie marker, but rather for the Uni-Ball pen. Now our gears really started to turn...
The next step in the journey involved driving around town to every office superstore in the greater Denver area to find as many cap-off disposable pens as we could. When we returned from our trip we had two bags full of plastic pens and were giddy to try them all in the Sherpa. To our pleasure, not only did the Sharpie marker and Uni-Ball Vision fit into the Sherpa but a number of other disposable pens did as well. This meant that the Sherpa could be anything from a permanent marker to a roller ball pen to a highlighter. How cool is that?
After more than a year of development, it was finally time to bring the Sherpa to the market in the Summer of 2008. It was August of that year that the Sherpa finally launched and it was met with an equal amount of excitement and curiosity. With only 6 original designs the Sherpa became an immediate hit and has been a staple of the fine pen market ever since.