Sprintervan Build(s) - Components/Kits
The real nature of our business We are still toiling away at the prep work that goes into multiple van builds and getting the vans further along and prettier to look at (from the inside) every day. We are also doing the hard work of figuring out what exactly this new business is.
We seem to always find ourselves in these projects for all the same (and all the right) reasons. We do something and find we have a huge passion and excitement for it... then someone asks if we can/will do the same for them. It's something we think would be fun to do again, and the idea that we can also make some money while doing it is obviously exciting. That's a rare combination in this world and we often feel like it would be selfish of us to NOT jump on those opportunities when they arise...
But then there's the reality to face. The commitments, the time, the hard work and the financial and mental strain. It's not easy. In fact it's very, very hard. We have been working insanely long days in the shop and then bookending those morning and night by even more hours designing/product searching, marketing and connecting with those interested in our new builds/products. We suddenly find ourselves not only working full time jobs, but worse...in a startup with nobody to be mad at for setting our schedules but ourselves. Somehow, even the weather is taunting us. After months of driving around looking for snow, we find ourselves building vans in the freezing cold and the snow comes to us. Ironic...and really just rude. C'mon. Gimme a break nature... try to be a team player.
We also find ourselves in a business started with friends. Something everyone has always warned us against, but that we didn't give pause to doing. We love these guys and we all bring something different to the table and we would never have started this without them. In fact, they're the one's who had such excitement and enthusiasm for the idea that they talked us into it and convinced us to put our name/brand on it.
But as with any partnerships...that too has it's difficulties. It's harder to make true business decisions and especially for us, harder to have those hard conversations. It's hard to share each and every detail that you might with someone you don't love deeply in a typical business situation as you want to avoid hurting, and in our case... we find ourselves working twice as long and twice as hard to try and avoid them having stress and hard work associated with the project. Despite initial business plans they still both have their day jobs, and as much as we want to fight for full equal hours in for equal reward out, we also love them and would do anything to try and reduce the stress and anxiety they feel that seems to have come with this project. Instead... we find ourselves just instinctively picking up the slack.
We are still convinced the path/outcome is right and the reasons we took this leap are the still valid... but we now find ourselves in that point in the projects where the reality is taking over the plans. Were tired, were weary, were feeling the financial and logistical stress of our business partners... and there's a still a very, very long way to go.
Like all other portions of our life, this is new and takes time to learn. It's an evolving understanding of how this all works and will take time to find the proper balance. Luckily, we all communicate well, have both each other and the business' best interest at heart and will figure this all out together as we continue building beautiful vanz.Speaking of vans... both vans and the future kits that will go in them are coming along nicely, and we are stoked by how well everything is coming together. In contrast to inside of the van shell, which is becoming more functional but arguably less attractive as we move along, the components are moving in the right direction at great leaps and bounds.
The bent bamboo panels we designed two years ago for our first van and reengineered before leaving for our winter road trip are not only sexy and cool...they are remarkably strong. I can't imagine a more rugged solution to our campervan conversion needs, and as we begin cutting the panels to shape and pairing them together with the welded aluminum exoskeleton I have to say... each piece is a work of art!
This is very important to us, as these cabinets are not only the heart and soul finish of the vans we're currently building, but hopefully the focus of the business moving forward. We do enjoy the custom aspect of prototyping and building vans, but that also requires us to be in one place for a long period of time (which doesn't exactly fit our nomadic nature).
These cabinets are also intended to form a product that we can sell while continuing our travels. I have long held a belief that there is a huge gap between the $1000 DIY van build with a couple of tools and some plywood (and maybe a lot of youtubing), and the $150-200,000 builds that conversion companies are selling. I designed these components while building out our sprintervan and have always been excited to not have those hours go to waste as a one-time build.
Everything was designed/engineered to the smallest detail a few years ago and now its exciting to make a few at the level of detail I wish I had had time for then and see if people are indeed looking for a more affordable but beautiful and refined option to finish out their own campervan build (and the beauty is that it can all be installed with only a few bolts using existing factory holes... we cant possibly make things much easier than that!).