As a writer, I use agendas and composition books to organize and brainstorm my novels and short stories. The act of putting a pen to paper helps my creativity. When an English friend showed off her Filofax agenda and explained how she used it to organize her novel, a larger Filofax to keep her notes, timeline and other details organized and a smaller pocket sized one to hold all the index cards that she used to outline her novel, I became intrigued. One look at the luxury leather, the metal snaps and all the little stationary accessories that could be used with it, I fell in love. My first Filofax was a Crimson Personal Malden. The leather was soft, the agenda opened flat and I found that I could keep my novel’s notes at my fingertips.
I discovered a community of Filofax users and collectors at a blog called Philofaxy. There I discovered a myriad of tips on how to become better organized by using the planners. Filofax owners used their scrapbooking skills to create dividers, decorate their diary pages and attached charms to the rings of their binders. Each luxury binder became a unique expression of the owner’s artistic vision.
Filofax is a United Kingdom based company and most of the owners of the agendas live in Europe. When the members of Philofaxy met in order to show off their personalized binders to each other, these gatherings were held in London. Filofax agendas are difficult to find in the United States, only a few specialty shops carry them, and a meet up would be the only way that I could see one in person before I purchased one from an online catalog. Since the meet ups were only in London, an opportunity to hold a Filofax that I was interested in before purchasing it was nil. The United States Filofax owners decided to change that. One of our Philofaxy members decided to see if there would be any interest in setting up the first Filofax meet up in the Los Angeles area. A dozen ladies RSVPed on Facebook, a few committing to travel in from other Western States, and the plans were confirmed.
When the appointed Saturday arrived, I set off in my car to Old Town Pasadena. The freeways in California were busy even on the weekend. My google map app sent me in the wrong direction once I made the city streets. It was good that I had tucked a few paper maps of the area into my glovebox. I ended up parking at a nearby metro station and then walking. I passed by many small boutiques, including stationary and art supply shops. It was amazing to see so many of these types stores all in a single city block. At last, I found myself in front of small shop with large windows and a cloth awning over the doorway.
The front of The Tea Rose Garden was an indoor atrium with stone tiles on the floor, rustic iron furniture painted in distressed cream, and hanging plants. In old-fashioned cupboards, an abundance of bone china plates and teacups were on display. In the rear, behind the restaurant area, was a functional florist shop where several short women were busy creating arrangements with roses, daisies and carnations. Our Filofax group gathered around several tables in the front beside the large windows. The women were of a variety of ages, from a young child all the way to seniors, each one present due to their love of Filofax and stationary. All the ladies had brought their collection of Filofax agendas. I had considered myself an addict with four of them, but there were ladies with far more in their bags.
Our coordinator, Jennifer Reyes, gave a short lecture about Filofax agendas and held up the various binders that we had brought with us, discussing the different colors that each range came in and the variations of the different sizes. This helped to break the ice and soon we were freely passing around the Filofaxes that we had brought. We examined the various agendas with their myriad of pockets, felt the leather with our hands and were able to compare the construction between the models of the ranges.
I was astounded by the creativity that these ladies showed via the paper arts. Some had taken photos, glued them onto cardstock to make dividers, others had used a criscut to create paper shapes to jazz up and personalize their dividers and pages. Washi tape was placed in their agendas and various stamps were used to not only help organize their Filofaxes, but to decorate too. Their skill made my simple attempts at patterned dividers seem quite humble.
One lady passed around a Filofax with a Coleto multi-pen inside the rings where it nested until needed. I happened to have brought my own Coleto, that I use during editing, and put it into my Personal Malden as an experiment. The clip on the Coleto seemed to mold around the rings and it gripped them securely. It was as if the space were designed to fit the pen. I can take the Coleto with me when I wish to color code in my agenda instead of in a separate pen holder, which makes the Filofax more user friendly.
Soon the English tea was served by the wait staff. We had a choice of iced tea or a private blend of hot Earl Grey Tea served along with platefuls of tiny crustless sandwiches, fresh fruit and scones with Derbyshire cream. We Americans thought that having a English tea was appropriate for a Filofax meet up since most of the gatherings were held in London. This idea was spoken of with mild amusement by our modern day members across the pond. However, we all enjoyed our lunch at the Tea Rose Garden and the Filofax fellowship that we participated in.