We all know that feeling. Sometimes, you just want to get up from your office chair and explore the world that lies out there. You want to roam open fields like a wild horse and conquer snowy mountains like a steadfast bear. Kathi and Paul shared this dream for a long time, and today, they live it. We talked with them about their decision to live on the road, create, and write a book about outdoor-cooking in the snow.
Van = Office + Home
In June 2016, Kathi and Paul swapped their employment and home and hearth for the freedom of the road. As creative freelancers, the “Vannomaden” (literal translation: “van nomads”) now travel the world. They create innovative designs, clever marketing strategies, and advertising campaigns from their office. It is also their bedroom, living room, and sturdy means of transportation.
Get to know Paul and Kathi:
“Nomads were people who roamed the land, always on the hunt for prey. Paul and me, we are a lot like that. We are always on the hunt as well: for awing places, fantastic moments and, of course, great jobs,” says Kathi, creative mind of the duo. “And we’re always on the go. We live, travel, work, and cook… all in our van,” adds Paul.
Their decision to leave their life behind was not just going with their guts. “We’ve had this idea for a very long time. We took one week off together and thought everything through in detail,” says Paul. “During this time, we came up with a plan. We bought our van and quit our jobs.” For Paul and Kathi, this decision was about feeling free again and being able to spend more time together snowboarding, surfing, and traveling Europe. “We want to see and do so much more,” says Kathi.
It wasn’t all about fun and sunshine, though. In a way, this step was a necessity for both of them. “In the last few years before we became van nomads, things were just too much,” remembers Paul. “Weeks, months, and years just flew by.” He had several breakdowns due to stress and pressure in his job.
Design, Strategy, and a Cookbook
A book about outdoor cooking. Who would be a better fit for that than the Vannomaden?
Kathi takes care of designs, illustration, typography, and the realization of creative concepts. Paul is responsible for consulting, administration, and strategizing. “I cover her back, so she can fully concentrate on what’s most important: creativity,” says Paul.
They have been in creative business for a long time. Both worked at several big agencies. They mirror this experience in their way of working on projects. “We have the same standards and fundamentals as the big players,” explains Paul. “We are a creative bureau for online, offline—actually, all-line,” he adds. They are designers, tinkerers, adventurers, and consulters. They have an eye for details. They love outdoor sports and pirate stories.
For their success, Paul has an easy explanation: “We focus on two things in our work. Creativity and quality. Being open and having creative ideas is mostly on Kathi,” Paul explains. “And by quality, I mean quality in execution, in processes, and in communication.” Although they are always on the go, their clients can always reach them. “With our approach to marketing, you can truly excite clients.”
Right now, the duo is working on a project that is truly fitting them: a cookbook about preparing meals outdoors in the winter. There’s no better team to work on such a book. They have to cook outdoors all the time, after all. “It’s a really complex project. We have to coordinate with the author, the publishing house, the photographers,” explains Paul. As they work from their van and travel through Europe, they can’t just gather all people around a single table…
Watch the trailer for “The Great Outdoors – Winter Cooking”:
The Tools of a Nomadic Ad Agency
“When working remotely, clear communication is key,” says Paul. For review processes on PDFs, this can become an almost impossible task. When every side does their reviewing individually and via email, you will end up with several documents you have to go through one by one. “This way of managing reviews has nothing to do with quality in communication processes,” says Paul.
That’s why they use Filestage to review designs, layouts, and documents. “The comments are all in one file. All sides can see each other’s comments, so everyone is always in the know,” explains Paul. Since Filestage is a cloud-based solution, it’s a perfect match for the Vannomaden. “We are digital nomads. We want to be mobile and able to work whenever and wherever.”
Kathi and Paul call themselves “Filestage Fans” and they’ve cited one particularly useful feature of Filestage: “The Usability. Full stop,” says Kathi. “Our clients know immediately how to use it. Convincing them of Filestage has always been smooth,” Paul adds. “They love to have a tool where they can just log in and go.” Alternatively, the duo can just share a link to their latest project with whoever they like—no signup required!
Filestage is especially useful in Paul’s day-to-day work: “It helps me keep an overview of everything that’s going on. My administrative tasks are much less painful.” Every part of the review process and every single comment is always immediately available and clearly documented. The versioning makes it easy to check if past change requests have already been discussed. “It saves space in my head! This way, I can develop better creative strategies and approaches,” Paul says. “With Filestage, we are finally cooking with gas!” he adds jokingly.
With an open mind he tries to bring a little creativity in everyone’s life. His credo: Communication is key to success.