From Managing a Brand to Making a Brand… in a van

I did it. I got the job at the company that I had wanted to work for since I was 12, got to ride my skateboard two blocks to work everyday, got the office in an office-less office, was always on an airplane going somewhere exciting, got to answer frantic midnight calls from Europe, got to hear why everyone disliked their bosses, got to answer for… really, everything. I couldn’t understand why my colleagues were so apt to put in minimal hours and give half-ass work when I found the whole act of exceeding expectations to be the most rewarding of acts.

Lack of Freedom

Then I met a boy. After years of committing myself wholeheartedly to my job, forgetting that my twenties were coming to a close, and forgetting to date – there he was. Bright eyed and ready to see the world.

I suddenly found myself putting in 10 hour days instead of my usual 12-13 hours and putting my phone on silent at night. We spent all off-work hours together, but it seemed like no time at all. Then it hit me: my life was no longer my life – my life was my job. Now it all made sense why all my co-workers wanted to leave work at business close – they truly had better things to do. One day, Ryan (the boy) started talking about living in a van… and that’s when everything changed.

Discovering Van life

It was almost as though I was looking for a way out & just needed the excuse. Within two months of him mentioning “vanlife” to me for the first time, I bought a van: a 1985 Ford Econoline150 & we began plotting our exit strategy.

Hitting the Road

We hit the road in March 2017. We are ski / snowboard obsessed and immediately ventured to Colorado. We spent a few months finishing out the winter season there and then cruised down to Baja, Mexico. This is where things got real. Although the sudden influx of free time was seemingly amazing, I felt incredibly guilty for just letting go of everything I had worked so hard for. Traveling is amazing, but I was lacking a sense of purpose. I was coming to realize that I really do like working, but work shouldn’t be everything.

Building my Brand

When it came to our van/home goods, I was also having a dilemma – our blanket situation. After about the 10th blanket purchase, I was over it. We would take them outside to picnic or hang on chilly nights, and it seemed like every blanket became dirty quickly and was hard to clean. The only outside-proof “blanket” we had was our sleeping bag and that bulky thing was annoying to store in our small space and was not down for those “chill sessions” when you just want a throw blanket to snuggle with.


So, I started brainstorming solutions. Inevitably, I developed “the Pillow Blanket” – a blanket for when you need it to be, and a pillow for all those other times. Water resistant, durable, soft, good-looking, made from recycled materials – I literally made my dream product. Made for people who don’t need tons of things, but want long-lasting things. So, how do I actually make this “thing”?… I asked for help and reached out to the people who knew something I didn’t. I listened, I read. And eventually, I got a bite from the last boss I ever had. He had an investor, a factory, and a knowledge set that was complimentary to my own – it really was the perfect recipe.

Financial Freedom

Here we are, three months later, and I am not yet readjusted to full-time work while living in the van, BUT we just closed a successful Kickstarter campaign and are shipping out our first round of blankets June 1st, 2018. Life is good. And honestly, this never could have happened if I had suppressed that little voice inside of me that knew that success in the workplace was not everything. Not to sound cheesy, but passion and love are the reasons worth living for. Live in pursuit of these, and the world is our garden, let’s dig it.

You can find us on…

ProjectVanlife Forum

Sami Syed

Published in December


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