The twins are fueling fashionable ‘van life’ – by converting school buses into homes
A pair of twin sisters left their 9-5 year olds in the dust to contribute to the Skoolie trend – where adventurers live in refurbished school buses.
#Skoolie has over 2 billion views on TikTok as the laid-back lifestyle continues to grow in popularity, despite cramped quarters, struggles with loneliness, hygiene issues and safety concerns.
Minnesota twins Courtney and Cassidy Stutelberg combined their DIY skills to expand their bus-building business Nomadic Homes after Courtney quit her job as an operations specialist in 2017 and vacationed in Alaska and Canada.
When her 1990 GMC Suburban needed a new transmission the following year, Courtney opted instead to invest in a retro school bus for $2,500.
“Initially the question was to find a place to live, sell the suburb or buy the bus – and of course, invest a few thousand dollars in the conversion and build a house on wheels,” Courtney told JamPress.
“I had never built anything before, but my ex-partner had carpentry skills, so I learned how to build a bed, a makeshift kitchen and discovered running water,” she added. .
After living on the bus for six months and making $5,000 worth of upgrades, she decided the newly habitable mobile was too big and sold it for around $10,000.
Courtney purchased and refurbished a second and third bus, sparking the business idea.
“I’m a quick learner when it comes to hands-on projects because I’m pretty good at watching someone do something, or even looking at a photo and replicating it,” she explained.
“I was self-taught watching videos and learning from others in the communities I visited.”
Courtney said she spent the next five years traveling across 49 states while refurbishing buses and selling them at a high profit.
Sister Cassidy joined her in March 2022, as she had quit her job as a nurse and longed for a fresh start.
“Although I have some experience restoring an old car, I came into the business with no experience whatsoever,” Cassidy told Jam Press. “So my first conversion was a huge learning process, but I was up for the challenge.”
“(When I started) I didn’t know how to build a wall,” Cassidy admitted. “Now I’m almost as good as Courtney – or so I like to think.”
Each bus is tailored to the needs of the customer. The twins said all but one of their customers were single women, who brought them a bus or helped them find one.
A full build starts at $65,000 – although the Stutelbergs agree inspiring women are priceless.
“Courtney and I have the ability to change people’s lives, whether it’s building them a home or just being there to support and encourage them. It really is something special,” Cassidy told Jam Press.
Courtney added: “We strive to encourage women, and men, of course, to have the courage within themselves to hit the road solo.”
According to the RV Industry Association, approximately 400,000 RV owners live full-time in their rigs.
A group of three women recently made headlines for living on a school bus and traveling the country after realizing they were being cheated on by the same guy. They shared how the trip strengthened their bond.
There are also disadvantages. The 2021 murder of Gabby Petito laid bare the struggles #vanlife couples can face while isolated from their support networks.
New York Post