Andy: How did you get involved with the mechanical keyboard community?
Sheraton: It all began with my friend introducing me to his Filco with Cherry MX Brown switches. I remember him specifically telling me, “I spent $150 on this keyboard, so I don’t think you even want to lay near it.” At first, I didn’t know what made the keyboard so special, but when I took a typing test and played a game with it, I was sold instantly. After that, I did some research and I ordered a tenkeyless Filco with Cherry Blues. My interest for mechanical keyboards grew and I joined the GH community in 2010. I met some really great people, including “demik” and “reaper” and I’ve had dinner and boba with them several times. I even went biking with “demik” once, and that was a really great experience. I then started a small site with “hazeluff” called Keyboardstory. On this site, I wanted to spread the knowledge I had about mechanical keyboards.
Andy: What are the origins of Originative?
Sheraton: What started as a hobby quickly changed into what is now Originative when I realized that the Korean keyboard community had products (custom keyboards, cream cheese n green, custom springs, switch stickers, etc.) that they were not willing to share with the U.S. I wanted to help bring those items here for our community, so I spoke to multiple keyboard community members in Korea. I knew that our community had always sought after Cherry double shots and wanted to add that to my store. After intense research, I had found the new owner of Cherry moldings, GMK. I knew they were the holy grail of all keycaps, so I made a huge order from them and I wanted to surprise everyone in the keyboard community. The first 4 keysets I introduced were the ones that I sought after the most: Classic Beige, Olivetti, Dolch, and Charred Orange. A month after I found GMK, I then found BSP (it’s actually located on the backspace of the PBT Cherry key). I met up with BSP telling them my story, and they were highly interested. After talking to BSP, I realized that the ultimate goal for Originative was to stock high quality keysets and collect the best of the best.
Andy: I know you’ve had some problems in the past keeping up with orders, care to discuss what happened? Can customers expect items to ship out quickly at this point?
Sheraton: As a one man show, it was definitely hard to keep up with everything, especially when I had not anticipated that the company will take off as fast as it did. At the end of December 2013, I wanted to take a break and was away for a month. I had informed customers that I would be away and shipping will be delayed but had promised that their preordered products will go out by the end of January 2014. Throughout my trip, I promised myself that I would answer e-mails, but the e-mails built up quickly. As things piled up, I found myself less and less motivated to work. When I got back to the US, I found that GMK and other companies had delayed my product shipments and I was not able to fulfill the customer orders. I decided to just wait for the delayed shipments and assumed that my customers would be fine with that. Of course, they weren’t and I began to lose my customers’ trust. From this, I’ve learned to always update customers no matter the circumstances instead of ignoring the problem.
We have since improved and we now ship items within 1~2 business days. We have an office located at 2500 Pacific Park Dr. Ste. 211, Whittier, CA 90601. Customers can also do a personal pick up by appointment. Customers can reach/txt me personally (626) 589-8350. I know many customers are still skeptical but I can assure that things have improved. Since April 2015, I have brought my fiancé onto the team. She has motivated me, and I’ve been pushing myself harder than ever before. She keeps me on track, and she is a crucial part of this team.
Andy: My recent order did arrive quickly, I think it arrived in NC only 4 days after I placed my order, so my recent experience was definitely a good one. It sounds like your back on track. Having your contact information out in the public is also a great thing for customers to be able to have. I do appreciate the honesty in regards to the past.
Can you tell me about some of the items that you have developed, especially keycaps?
Sheraton: Most of the keysets (Dolch, Classic Beige, Olivetti, and Charred Orange) that we have are inspired older sets that I really loved. Our CMYW and RGBY modifier sets were made with inspiration from previous sets that were similar but made with black font. Because we were the first to order from GMK, there were some issues with our sets. GMK did not have any previous keyset samples to compare to, which was why some issues occurred.
We’ve also developed some special color sets through Tai Hao, such as the Apple Green, Royal Purple and Oceanic Blue. We were also the first to make a custom color order through them.
Andy: The CMYW modifiers are a personal favorite of mine!
Can you tell me some about your personal collection of keyboards?
- My most prized possession: The Cherry MX 5000. My first keyboard I ever purchased was a Microsoft 5000 in the 6th grade. It was an ergonomic keyboard. I just loved typing on this thing even though I was a kid. I practiced typing every day, and I was able to reach 120 wpm even at the age of 11. Unfortunately, my MSFT 5000 broke down when I spilled orange juice on it.I think the MX5000 is a great because I have a lot of memories with it and it makes me feel nostalgic. Not only does it bring back old memories, it also created new memories as it has Cherry MX switches on it.
- GT456. This is considered one of the holy grails by the korean mech community. I think it’s such a tank. Included with the keyboard are brass bars which increase the weight by a lot.
- IBM SSK- the best click clack you can get out of a tenkeyless keyboard.
- KMAC2 – Daily driver at home due to its programmability .
- HHKB Type S – My main driver at work due its compactness. I’ve always been a Cherry enthusiast, but this topre keyboard really grew on me (It took 3 years).
I have many other keyboards, but the above are my favorite of the collections.
Andy: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the community?
Sheraton: I have apologized once before, and I do sincerely apologize again to everyone out there whose orders were not fulfilled on time. We do have an office now, and I am no longer trying to do everything on my own. I plan to host a meet and greets soon when we get more GMK sets, custom keyboards, and other full novelty keycap sets in. I will make an announcement on Reddit or maybe you can help me out (Andy: I’d be glad to). My team now consists of me (Sheraton), my fiance (Wendy), and my longtime friend and partner Hazeluff (Eugene) for now.
Andy: Thank you for the interview Sheraton. I really appreciate trying to make things right with the community and being honest about the past. Hopefully the past can be left as the past, and things will continue to grow for you. I am always one to advocate for second chances when it seems lessons have been learned. My recent order arrived in great condition in a very reasonable amount of time, and I have no reason to think delays with orders will happen again. Thank you again for reaching out to the community!