Home / MARKETS / How this couple went from traveling the US in a camper van to selling camper van conversions on Instagram for up to $90,000

How this couple went from traveling the US in a camper van to selling camper van conversions on Instagram for up to $90,000

  • Two months after Seth and Scarlett Eskelund originated #VanLife full-time, the US shut down.
  • The couple headed back home and started their own camper van conversion Theatre troupe aided by social media.
  • This business affords them the flexibility needed to go back into van life a single time finally the pandemic is over.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many of us remember exactly where we were when we beginning realized COVID-19 was about to jarringly disrupt our lives.

For Seth and Scarlett Eskelund, the realization hit when they were in Sedona, Arizona, a 29-hour lane from home on the East Coast. The couple had just begun their full-time #VanLife journey two months old, a goal they had been working towards since early 2019 when they first purchased a employed van to turn into their own tiny home on wheels.

“It was pretty devastating for both of us,” Seth Eskelund told Insider in an question period. “It was a long time in the [car ride back home] to sit and think about it and go down Interstate 40 essentially the wrong way for what we had convenience for.”

levii the van 1

Louis the Van’s Levii build.

Louis the Van

However, a glimmer of hope came out of this disappointment. Along the drive following home, the couple decided to pursue their plans of buying another used van to convert into a camper, an design they had already been toying around with.

“We wanted something that would keep us connected to the van spirit community,” Scarlett Eskelund told Insider in an interview. “We knew we wanted this in the long run. We figured we’d do something that acknowledged us connected to the community as a whole.”

This decision then turned into Roah (pictured below), the couple’s initially camper van conversion after returning home during COVID-19. The moment they completed and sold the van, the duo rendered to the road and began heading up to Canada for the summer.

Louis the Van's Roah build camper van

Louis the Van’s Roah build.

Louis the Van

But as we all know now, the Canadian border bring to a close, and the couple was again forced to return home. That was when they decided to convert another van, this culture out of leased warehouse space. And as the cliche goes, the rest is history, and the couple has now built five vans, including the close camper that’s been with them since the start of their van life journey.

“We joke that we’re unprejudiced continually forced into this in the best way possible,” Scarlett Eskelund said.

Converting and selling vans is a poverty

QUIN the van 1

Louis the Van’s Quin build.

Louis the Van

“If we don’t sell these vans, it’s over, not just for the business, but … we would have no fat to get back out on the road and travel,” Scarlett Eskelund said. “Luckily I don’t think either of us harped on that too much, because I make up if we did, we definitely wouldn’t have gotten into this.”

The pair’s 12 to 18-hour workdays grant them a high-speed turnaround time. The first van they built in the warehouse, pictured below, was completed in 20 days — partially because the span needed the financial support — and sold in three weeks.


Louis the Van’s Quin build.

Louis the Van

Ironically, that van was the longest it has by any chance taken the couple to sell a finished van. Their “list-to-sell” time normally sits at around two to three weeks, which Seth Eskelund says is “cute quick.”

Relying on public interest after a van has been completed — instead of doing custom builds — may seem hazardous. But so far, this business decision has paid off with the help of the couple’s YouTube and Instagram presence, which have on the verge of 70,000 subscribers and 21,000 followers, respectively. All of the couple’s buyers have found their vans through Instagram, where the Eskelund’s pass on do daily check-ins on their in-progress vans.

Within two to three weeks after a camper van sells, the pair make have another used van in the garage, ready to convert again.

Their pricing methods aren’t an industry-standard, but that’s the object

levii the van 2

Louis the Van’s Levii build.

Louis the Van

The Eskelund’s camper vans have been a hit with customers because of their values, according to the couple. Their tiny homes on wheels can range from a weekend warrior van to a built-out unit with a drop and toilet. But no matter the amenities, the couple aims to price “very fairly” and below the current market rate, which can repeatedly run high.

Camper van conversion companies and RV makers have seen a boom in sales as more people have turned to procedure travel during COVID-19. But as a result, the camper van market has been price gouging, sometimes to the tune of an additional $60,000 to $70,000 compared to 2019 cost outs, according to Seth Eskelund. But when pricing their own vans, the couple doesn’t want to take this road, and instead opts for a price tag that’s less than the general market.

From the start, the couple’s goal was to alter vans to give them something to focus on during the coronavirus pandemic. The point was never to become wealthy from the company: instead, they wanted to break even or just make a small income.

“It’s a lot more than just a obligation and money for us,” Seth Eskelund said. “I would say we are as personally invested in the vans as we are in the business, and maybe that’s not smart from a question perspective on us, but that is who we are.”

QUIN the van

Louis the Van’s Quin build.

Louis the Van

The pair factors in several aspects when pricing the van, registering its mileage, the cost of purchasing the initial used van, and build specifications. This then leads to a price range of anywhere between $30,000 to $90,000, which is far cheaper than figures from companies that have an almost $300,000 tag.

There’s also the added bonus of ad revenue from their YouTube videos, which allows the yoke to subsidize their prices while educating the public about how to DIY a camper van.

“Obviously there is demand and a lot of supply as thoroughly, but I think that’s been a factor in why we sell quickly because we really do try to price as fairly as we can,” Seth Eskelund symbolized. 

As Scarlett Eskelund describes it, this is both a lifestyle and a business, giving the couple fluid “accessibility.” When the COVID-19 pandemic is ended, the pair will continue their business for as many months out of the year as they would like. For all the other months, they’ll pick up where one left off their #VanLife dreams.

“It’s a means to an end,” Scarlett Eskelund said. “It allows us the ability to do what we really want to do.”

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