Girl Power - Women Campervan Converters and Businesses

Girl Power - Women Campervan Converters and Businesses

A Celebration of Women Campervan Converters and Businesses

We wanted to write a blog to celebrate the strong women out there who have broken the mould in a mans world that is campervan conversions and businesses. We hope this might be a source of inspiration for all those women out there who assume they cannot do DIY because of old traditions and realise that actually they can do it and can be just as good if not better than everyone else doing it. 

I would like to clarify - that we are not man haters or writing this blog to put down men - we have worked/do work with some amazing fellas in the business and you will see this portrayed in our women converter interviews. What we want to do is inspire women to have a 'can do attitude' and to also give options to people looking to have a campervan converted by women led businesses. 

To showcase what can be done by strong women we have teamed up with some other women campervan converters and businesses to display what can be done. We have created an interview style showcase along with photos so you can read and see for yourselves what can be done with a bit of courage and determination. 

Women Led Campervan Converters 

Project Van Rambo 

Project van rambo campervan converter

Sam from Project Van Rambo is the Queen of ambulances and up-cycled materials. We have been following her for years on instagram and have admired how she uses reclaimed materials in her builds. She loves converting ambulances because they are solid and square, go on forever and will have been really well maintained by the NHS.  Sam is based in Bristol and has a stunning feed on Instagram which you must check out if you haven't seen it already. 

Mini Interview with Sam 

1. What did you do before starting your campervan business?

I was an 8am-6pm Personal Assistant so absolutely nothing related to campervans or DIY! 

2. How long have you been running your business?

I've been officially a business since January when I registered as self employed but I started the year before on a hobby basis before taking the plunge!  

3. How would you describe your build style?
Rustic, bohemian, cabin in the woods, cottage core and cozy.
Project van rambo
4. Have you always had DIY skills? If not - how did you learn them?
No - I picked up my first tool in 2017 when I did my first van build. My fella taught me some skills but the rest was from YouTube. 
5. What's your favourite workshop tool? 
I don't think I have a favourite - I love them all equally!! 
6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills? 
No I haven't or if I have I haven't let it bother me. I think this is because i'm fairly strong in nature so if anyone looks ready to question if i'm actually doing the hard graft part (which has happened!) I sort of shove it in their face that it's me and my fella always backs me. 
7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?
Ashley from Supertramp - his work is my inspiration and I message him often.
 
8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 
I'm just on Instagram at the moment but watch this space in 2022 for a website.
Project van rambo

Laser and Grain

Laser and grain converters

Laser and Grain is owned and run by Annie and Pia and is run from their organic farm in rural Devon. They absolutely love creating laser products for van lifers with their inspiration coming from converting their own van. They use sustainably sourced wood to create bespoke laser cut products for anyone converting vans and for small businesses. 

Mini interview with Annie & Pia

1. What did you do before starting your business? 

I was a Physio Assistant in the NHS for 10 years, I met some truly incredible people - patients and colleagues. It definitely taught me to take each moment as it comes and that helping people is, for me, the most rewarding thing I can do with my life. 

I had a bit of a burn out though and after leaving the NHS, I became a zip line instructor and then a labourer for a timber frame construction firm before the pandemic hit.

2. How long have you been running your business? 

Since November 2020, so not long! It’s been an exhilarating journey so far and we’re loving it. The pandemic meant that I had a large chunk of time without pay in my old job, so we took the leap and started the business. It was a massive gamble (which isn’t my style) but I am so glad we did it. We have met some amazing people along the way and it’s awesome to be involved with the vanlife community - it is such a wonderful, positive and inclusive way of life.

3. How would you describe your work style? 

Laser and grain

‘In progress’ and definitely eclectic! I love designing products and trialling new sustainable materials to work with.  So, it’s a tricky balancing act between allowing time to be creative and being time efficient to stay on top of orders and all the business admin that keeps everything ticking along. Plus, we need to fit in spontaneous van trips of course!

4. Have you always had DIY skills? If no - how did you learn them?

I didn’t grow up around DIY but I’m pretty practically minded and have always loved having a crack at making things. 

I’ve learned through watching others - I’m that annoying person that hangs around asking builders/carpenters etc unending questions!

5. What's your favourite workshop tool? 

Well, aside from the fire breathing laser, my orbital sander is essentially an extension of my body now - I spend a lotttt of time sanding and am so glad I don’t have to do it by ‘hand’ now!

6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills? 

As a labourer, I was the only woman on site. I had fantastic workmates that always treated me as an equal. I did get some odd looks from visitors to site sometimes and became known as the ‘the worker lady’ (said with a strong Devonian accent) by some!  But, it was always a look of amazement rather than judgment, fortunately.

7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?

Wow, tough question as there are so many! But if I had to pick one: My mother in law to be, Sarah - she always supports us to follow our dreams and tells us in no uncertain terms to shut up if we doubt ourselves! She’s Australian, so British reservedness is not her thing!

8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 

At www.laserandgrain.co.uk and @laserandgrain on Facebook and Instagram. We love to chat through peoples ideas for van conversions - whether they’re doing it solo or a van converter with a fleet of vehicles every year. So, if anyone reading this wants to get in touch, please feel free! Our email address is info@laserandgrain.co.uk

Laser and grain

 

Handkrafted Campers 

Handcrafted campers women converters
Issey and Shelly are a big part of the self build, handcrafted campervan movement using reclaimed materials to create absolute works of art! They met in 2010 and have been a force to be reckoned with ever since. Shelly is a third generation in a family of carpenters and still uses some of her grandfathers tools to build campers. Issey built her first van with her dad which was called Joy the bus and he is still a big part of the business always on the hunt for reclaimed materials. 
Mini Interview with Issey & Shelly
1. What did you do before starting your campervan business? 
We did seasonal festival work and spent summers working for a Bell Tent company and winters exploring, working on different volunteering projects abroad. Just before we built our very first home on wheels, we lived in a flat in Bristol, Issey was a Massage/Bodywork therapist and Shelly worked with a girl with Autism. Little did we know that building, Joy, our big bus, would be the first step into our journey to building bespoke campervans.

2. How long have you been running your business? 
We ventured back from Portugal with a campervan we had built there on some land in June 2018 with the intention to see how that sold and to potentially begin a campervan business. The van sold easily and we had lots of great feedback. (The lady that bought it still lives in it now.) So, we decided to go for it. We completed the Princes Trust Enterprise programme that summer and became established in late October 2018. We cant believe it’s been only three years. It feels like yesterday and forever at the same time!
 
3. How would you describe your build style? 
Handcrafted campers female campervan builders
Our building style is in our name, Handkrafted Campers. Each build is completely bespoke, organic in nature with attention to detail. We are all about the quality and the longevity of our builds. A lot of the wood we use is reclaimed and we spend a lot of time giving this wood life again. Each build is a labour of love and our clients feel it.
 
4. Have you always had DIY skills? If no - how did you learn them?
Yes - we both have always been handsy and are happiest when making. Issey has the fondest memories of DT at school and still has some of the things she made from then. Issey’s dad is the DIY superman so she grew up knowing that things could be made or easily fixed with a bit of time and love. Shelly’s dad is a cabinet maker and she was often at his workshop playing with tools and asking him lots of questions. You could say that DIY is in our blood. It was amazing when we built our first bus as both our Dad’s gave us the platform to learn and build. We spent half the time on the street in London and the rest in Hertfordshire parked up outside Ed’s (shelly’s dads) workshop. 

5. What's your favorite workshop tool? 
Oohhh good question! 
Shelly’s would be the sanders, we have belt sander and a couple of random orbital sanders. She is the sanding queen and really has the eye for machine marks. It's quite a special things seeing an old, weathered floor board be sanded back to it's former glory, showcasing the knots and character. (She also loves the biscuit joiner and the  kregg jig!) 
Issey’s would be currently the step drill bit - its very satisfying and works well with metal when creating bespoke sockets. Shes also enjoys the wire stripper and the angle grinder. It's something about the sparks!

6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills?
No - perhaps we’ve been super lucky. We’ve had the odd delivery driver be a bit confused when there is only two girls, a campervan or two and a bunch of machines!

7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?
Issey - My parents - they taught me to see treasure in other people's trash and to think outside the box.
Shelly - the various other makers of this world, the van builders, the tinkerers, the creators. It’s lucky to be able to browse and absorb the talented people in the world. There is so much inspiration out there.
8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 
Head to our website, www.handkarftedcampers.com or our instagram handkrafted_campers
Handcrafted campers

Clock Off Campers 

clock off campers

 Jazz and Ellie are out and proud female converters who have a panchant for micro campers. They do convert larger vans but it's their lovely little mini campers that really grab your attention. They are firm believers in work hard/play hard and that you shouldn't take life too seriously. They strive to show that affordable adventure is possible for everyone and that's why their commissions won't break the bank.  

Mini interview with Clock Off Campers

1. What did you do before starting your campervan business?

Prior to starting Clock Off I was actually a Start-up Project Manager at a University, supporting students to start their own business. I still dabble in some start-up coaching alongside the business now because entrepreneurship and innovation is an equally significant passion in my life with campervans!

2. How long have you been running your business?

I started to build the business in the spring of 2020 (a turbulent time for us all!). I ended up starting the business while I was still full time in my project management job but soon went part time to dedicate time to the business. In November of 2020 we took on our first Industrial unit to cope with the demand and eventually, in December of 2020 it was time to say goodbye to financial security and left my job completely to commit full time to Clock Off.

3. How would you describe your build style?

clock off campers conversions

With a focus on microcampervans, our builds focus on making the most out of small spaces. Our conversions range from our simple Bootboxes - compatible with a range of vehicles, turning your car by day into a camper by night - to a full cosy kit out of small and medium vans. 

We take our style inspiration from Scandinavian interiors and fuse these ideas together with the simplicity of camping to create fresh and homely campervans. With innovation so close to our hearts we love to create distinctive yet practical features like our al fresco pull-out kitchen stove drawer.

4. Have you always had DIY skills? If no - how did you learn them?

I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, although I do wish I’d realised how much I truly enjoyed it before I took out a whopping student loan for the sake of a degree! Just after graduating university I was itching to do something ‘hands on’ so my partner and I built our first campervan. Then we built ourselves another and another! Throughout that process I learnt so many skills and took on so much knowledge I started doing it as just a hobby alongside work. Before I knew it, Clock off was born!

5. What's your favourite workshop tool?

If my heavy duty workshop speaker we use to listen to 8 hours of true crime podcasts a day doesn’t count, then I would have to say my mitre saw. When we were building our own campervans we only used a good old fashioned hand saw. The hand saw was a great place to start to really learn the beauty of the craft but with the demand we now have as a business the mitre saw is a game changer. 

6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills?

I’m lucky enough to not have faced direct prejudice but that doesn’t take away the systematic prejudice within the industry. If you follow us on instagram you will know I’m a big advocate for getting women represented in ‘tradesman’ workwear and advertising. Since starting Clock Off the total lack of representation and consideration of women in trade amongst workwear brands has been truly eye opening. I and many other women have found it near impossible to find any workwear fitted specifically for women in trade and if you are lucky enough to find any, it will usually be double the price. As someone who is super passionate about getting people to start their own business, it is infuriating to see these kinds of barriers to entry for women. 

7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?

For me there isn’t just one person that has inspired me but I am continuously inspired and motivated by my fellow female founders in this industry. I have found that running a business in an industry that involves so much hard, physical work, requires a genuine love and passion for what you. Seeing legends like Ceci from Wild Road Camper and Annie and Pia at Laser and Grain put so much love into the work they do in the van life world genuinely spurs my energy and love for this industry. 

8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 

You can find us on Instagram @clockoffcampers and on Facebook as ‘Clock Off Campers’ to follow our conversion journeys. To find out more about our conversion services or to book our hire campervan you can head to our website www.clockoff.co.uk

Clock off campers conversions

 

Us! Brown Bird & Co 

Brown bird and company

We are Laura and Jacqui and our aim is to create beautiful campervans that are highly functional and built to last for off grid adventures. We know how important it is that we maximise the use of space with plenty of easy to use storage and equipment, whilst maintaining a space that feels open and easy to move around in without squeezing past each other or making up beds everyday.

We have over 6 years combined experience of living full time time in a campervan so know exactly what you need to have a cosy home on wheels. Collectively we have spent over 4 years travelling around Europe off grid without the need for a campsite for power. All our vans are built with the same spec of equipment as the one we live in so we know our customers will have campers which are perfect for ultimate off grid adventures.

Mini interview with us! 

1. What did you do before starting your campervan business?

Jacqui built websites (and still does!), previous to that she was a Creative Technology Manager for a Card and Gift Manufacturer. I was a Letting Manager for an Independant estate agent in the Midlands and then decided to live full time vanlife and got a job working remotely for Quirky Campers (and still do part time) on-boarding new owners and van for rental. 

2. How long have you been running your business?

We have been running since April 2020 as a business but the instagram account (which started it all!) started in 2017. 

3. How would you describe your build style? 

brown bird and company campervan converters
Scandinavian and minimalistic with functional design that is simple and easy to maintain. We have been living in a van full time for 3 years now and have learnt what you really need rather than what you think you need!

4. Have you always had DIY skills? If no - how did you learn them? Jacqui had very basic DIY skills which were all self taught and I had none (other than sanding and decorating!) . We are both artists so luckily have a natural flare for design but we had to teach ourselves DIY skills which mainly came from Youtube and just giving things a go and working it out logically.

5. What's your favourite workshop tool? I can't decide between a bradle and the multitool and Jacqui loves a set square! 

6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills? Unfortunately we have on a couple of social media platforms. The worst offender has been Facebook with a few men making comments like "I bet their husbands built it" and "Where are the husbands". We are not sure if they were trying to be funny but as much as we do have a sense of humour it's just a little frustrating. We often doubt ourselves in a mans world but thankfully we do receive a huge amount of lovely comments from everybody so that gives us the encouragement we need. We have also worked with some fantastic men in the business which makes up for the handful of opinionated men on Facebook. 

women campervan converters

7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?
For me (Laura) it's definitely Jacqui and my amazing 2nd mum Lin in Cornwall who I spent a long time with as a child. I was absolutely in awe of what Jacqui built with her 1st van Scafell and never ever thought I would be the lucky one working alongside her, learning all the skills to go on building vans together. She has taught me so much and given me so much confidence and i'm so proud she is my partner in crime! Lin is one of those people who will teach themselves absolutely anything and is fiercely independent. She is a gifted artist and craftswoman and built outbuildings and did all the groundwork herself on her plot of land in Cornwall. She and Jacqui will always be my heroines! 
8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 
You can learn lots more about us and what we do on our website her but also on our social media channels:
Brown Bird and company conversions

 

Wild Road Camper

Wild road camper converter

We first met Ceci in 2019 at Camp Quirky and felt an immediate connection. She has a lust for life, is full of passion and is a go getter. At that point she hadn't started her conversion company and was travelling. Since then she has gone on to start an extremely successful conversion company based in Spain and creates beautiful builds for customers time and time again. 

Mini Interview with Ceci

1. What did you do before starting your campervan business?

I studied Physical Education at University, and went to England in 2013 to study English and work as an AuPair. A year later I started working as a Teacher in a Special Needs School and I stayed there until 2019 when I needed a life change, so I left my job and went travelling around Europe in my campervan.

2. How long have you been running your business?

I became a Self Employed and full time Van Converter at the end of 2020, and before that I had built two vans for myself and then a couple more for family and friends. Now I can say I’ve build 15 vans, which sounds crazy as I never thought this could be my job!

3. How would you describe your build style?

I think what defines me as a Converter is that each build is completely unique and bespoke, you couldn’t find two vans that look the same! I do commissions, so when the clients first get in touch with me I ask them what use they are gonna give to the van (living in it full time, just a weekend van, etc), and then having that into account, plus any particular requirements that they have, I design the layout. I send them pictures of the progress so that they can tell me if they wish to change anything and to make sure they are happy with how it’s going. And I always include something unique in each van, like geometric wood patterns in cabinet doors.

wild road campervan converters

 4. Have you always had DIY skills? If not - how did you learn them?

I’ve always been quite handy, loved building stuff since I was a kid (I still have some wooden pencils and forks I carved when I was around 10, and a wooden car I built in DT at school, that even had a small battery powered engine!). It definitely helped that my dad was a carpenter/builder, so I’d sometimes go and help him and he had loads of tools which I still use today. Also, Youtube has been a massive tool for me, I’ve spent so many hours learning about Electrics, Heaters, Water installations, etc.

5. What's your favourite workshop tool? 

For my day to day work I would say it’s the multitool, but I have to admit that even though I don’t use it as often, my favourite one is the sheet metal nibbler that make opening windows and skylights so much easier.

6. Have you ever experienced prejudice for being women with building skills? 

I wouldn’t say prejudice as such, but there are definitely comments like ‘did you build this yourself?’, ‘even the electrics?’, ‘but your dad helps you right?’… those kind of comments that I don’t think would ever be made to a male van converter.
But on the other hand, most people are pleasantly surprised, and everyone around me is very supportive and proud of what I’ve achieved.

7. Who has been a source of inspiration for you?

I couldn’t just choose one, as there are so many other van builders and creators that inspired me along the years. First The Nomads Family taught me that you have to take risks and follow your heart to do what makes you happy, and then your job won’t feel like a job anymore. And then, of course other fellow female van converters like Elle and Jazz from Clock Off Campers and Sam from Project Van Rambo. The attention to detail in their builds is stunning!

8. Where can we get more information about you and your business? 

You can follow me on Instagram @wildroadcamper and also on the website www.wildroadcamper.com

wild road camper converters

 


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