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Tom Shillue

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Teen pen maker in Lake Stevens gets into dream college

Courtesy photo from John Cramer Jr.

John Cramer Jr. set out to pay for college by selling his hand-crafted pens, and now he’s at least one step closer to that goal.

When KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz first spoke to Cramer back in October, he announced his intention to pay for college using the funds he generated through his pen business. That’s still the plan.

“Now that I’ve gotten into my dream school, which is Liberty University in Virginia, I’m now more motivated than ever to try to be able to put myself through college,” Cramer told Rantz in an interview this week.

The pens cost anywhere from $40 to $100 and Cramer sells them at Stylo-Ink.com. Cramer’s father taught him how to make them about five years ago, but he’s only been selling them for about a year and a half.

“I’m trying to limit debt,” Cramer said. “When I was in seventh grade, actually, my parents were doing a Dave Ramsey financial success course. So they were actually teaching me bits and pieces of it.”

The goal is to raise $15,000 before his first semester in order to avoid accruing any debt.

“I’m doing pretty good right now but I’ve still got a ways to go,” Cramer said. “I’m actually going to be getting two jobs, along with doing my college classes at Everett Community, my high school class, and then running my business so that I can really have that push so that I can make this a reality.”

In the early years Cramer would start out with acrylic blocks and wooden planks to make his pens, but more recently he grew capable of making more intricate pens out of some unusual materials.

“Right now, one of my top selling products are the bolt action pens that I actually have rifle cases with them,” Cramer said. “They have a 30-caliber bullet, a rifle clip on the pen, and a bolt action mechanism to really simulate that.”

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