JESS DEAL

After trading in her corporate ladder for a cargo van and the freedom of the open road, she developed the Pillow Blanket to maximize her space and minimize her stuff. Since March 3, 2017, she's been living full-time in her camper van working on Voited from her favorite locations in the western US, Canada & Mexico. 

Follow Jess on her adventures:

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

It was always my dream to work in the action sports industry. I spent seven years climbing the corporate ladder {yes, action sports are corporate these days} to land my dream job. I was stoked, but the obsession with my job began to take over. I was neglecting my passions and my relationships and began to feel as though I was giving away my life for a paycheck. 

Then I met a boy {Ryan} and everything changed. Now that I had a huge urge to spend time away from the office, I was quickly realizing that my previous mindset of living to work wasn't a viable way to sustain happiness and all my colleagues that were leaving the office at 4pm everyday, were the ones who were doing it right. 

Ryan had talked about wanting to travel in a van and since Ive always been a big advocate of following your dreams - no matter how crazy - I jumped on board and started looking for vans to convert. Once we found one, we made the leap of faith and decided to start really living, but in only 40 square feet. We hit the road on March 3rd, 2017.

WHERE HAVE YOU TRAVELED IN THE VAN AND WHY?

Both Ryan & I are obsessed with snow sports - he skis and I snowboard - so the first place we journeyed to was Colorado where we finished out the remainder of the 2017-18 winter season with big smiles and goggle tans.

After the lifts stopped running, we drove to Mexico and travelled the entire Baja peninsula. We planned to be there for three weeks, but we ended up stayed for three months. We fell in love with the ocean, the people, and our newfound freedom that neither of us had experienced before.

After Mexico, we drove north to the PNW and stayed there for a few months - we fell in love with Oregon. It is probably the best place you can imagine to be a van dweller. We used rope swings to get into our showers of turquoise rivers, ate the freshest food, and met some of the most interesting people. Oregon is very accepting of 'alternative living'.

WHAT DID YOU DO NEXT?

When the snow started falling again, we ventured back to Colorado to get our mountain fix for the winter. We had to chose a season pass early and although this past winter wasn't that epic for Colorado, we stuck through it and made the best of it. Towards the end of the season, we ventured to the ultimate place for spring skiing, Lake Tahoe, where we were riding at Squaw Valley until the end of May. 

HOW DID YOU SUPPORT YOURSELF?

At first, we rented out our apartment on AirBnb and subsidized living costs with savings. Then we got a drone and started playing around with aerial photography and videography. Ryan got commercially licensed and we began booking real estate photography gigs. I also started consulting small brands on social media management and content creation. 

WHERE DOES VOITED COME IN TO THE PICTURE?

Through all of our adventures, there was one thing we couldn't seem to quite figure out - our blanket situation. We were constantly ruining and re-buying blankets because typical blankets can't withstand the outdoors and we didn't have the space to store different blankets for different scenarios, like adventures vs sleeping. Sleeping bags were a constant eye sore in their sacks on the van bed / office bench and I dreamt of a blanket that would turn into a throw pillow when it's not being used. 

About 8 months into the trip, I was approached by my last boss who had also left the company we worked at together. He presented me with a unique opportunity to partner up with a supplier that he had great relations with and start a brand. Within 1 week, I gave him a proposal for a socially driven, collaborative brand concept and the Pillow Blanket. I had my first sample within a month and VOITED became a reality.

WHERE'S NEXT ON YOUR ADVENTURE?

We are about to embark on a cross-country(s), North American road trip from the northwest, across Canada, to the southeast to where Jess is originally from, Florida. Along the way, we are going to be scouting out mountain locations for our eco / action sports retreat that we will be building come 2019. Right now, we are focused on Montana for our location, but that could all change depending on what gems we find during our trip.

In October, we will leave the US and fly to Europe. We are going to get married in Portugal and then rent a camper van and travel through Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Big things on the horizon.

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