Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Erik and Kendra aren’t your typical RVers. They had a dream of being full time and running an artisanal bread baking business in an old renovated Greyhound bus (a 1966 MCI Challenger 5A to be specific).
“It sat for 15 years before we bought it. We were not rich, but work hard and have a dream, so we bought it for its strong bones and the Detroit diesel 8V71! Yup a two stroke and we love it. We bought it March 23 2019. It’s our first bus. We will be living full time as soon as it's finished,” says Erik.
Taken in by the beauty of not only Luna Bus, but also the stunning patterns Kendra bakes into her artisanal bread loaves, I was over the moon (pun intended) to be given the opportunity to interview them about their bus and business!
FTC: How long did it take you to renovate Luna Bus? Also, was it love at first sight? When did she know she was the one for you?
LB: “We are still in renovations! Had a huge teardown and now we are on the rebuild phase.
We actually said no thank you the first time we looked! Thought... way too much work!!! You'd have to be a #lunatic! After looking at many more buses, we realized she is really a gem in the rough!
“We didn't have a huge budget, but really wanted the style of bus she is. We wanted those strong stainless bones and reliable engine. We were both working up until the quarantine. Kendra worked as a Garde-manger at a nearby restaurant and Erik is a fabric architect with commercial sewing (stay tuned... possible future bus awning business). So, it had been a challenge only working on her between work. Slow going, as we thought.”
FTC: Tell us about your amazing bread! Do you bake inside Luna Bus? How do you balance business when living in the RV?
LB: “We had started down the #sourdoughrabbithole a few years ago mainly as a life skill and hobby. Perfecting it took time and was a fun challenge. So, when Kendra was laid off, she decided to start it back up. We knew there was unemployment, but instead of just sitting back we realized the opportunity to use unemployment to catch up on bills and to pour into the bus.
“We started sharing a few loaves of bread here and there and soon friends started asking to buy a loaf here and there. Now we are selling bread daily and it's our grocery and gas money. We got to thinking we weren't sure for a while if our jobs would come back at all. We didn't want to wait and see what happens. This is such a golden opportunity to try and make a small business work while we have that minimal backup of unemployment.
“The bus is being built on Kendra's parents’ property, for several reasons. When we were researching places like boatyards to store and work on the bus, Kendra's Dad was facing knee replacement surgery and would have to be out of work for several months. We all saw the solution as we might as well pay them to build it here and they wouldn't have to worry about getting the mortgage paid while Dad was recovering.
“Right around the beginning of quarantine they replaced their household oven and we've been baking the bread in their kitchen. The house is bustling since everyone is working from home. Dad in the basement (he's also a sailmaker and boat canvas worker) so he's on the commercial sewing machine in the basement. Kendra's Mom working on the phones from a computer in their bedroom and Erik and Kendra in the kitchen making sourdough!
“At night when Dad is done for the day with the machine, Kendra sews bags for the bread! It all seemed crazy and intolerable at first and there are definitely days we all want to kill each other! However, it's all falling into a rhythm and we enjoy the bread making and seeing the smiles as folks get their still warm sourdough. They all take a big inhale as the smell that famous and comforting warm bread smell. Then, they all give up a statement of some kind, what we've come to know as #breadconnfessions that's the best part for both of us is giving that little bit of joy and comfort to folks in this challenging time. Makes it all worth doing.”
FTC: How did you get started on your RV adventure?
LB: “We both love adventure. We both, hike, bike, surf, ski, skydive, motorcycle, skateboard and any other fun outdoor activity we can manage. We spent half our work week packing up for the weekend adventure, only to spend the other part of the work week unpacking. It was exhausting, but having the fun was just not a compromisable part of life for us, so… We had a Toyota camper called a Blue Marlin. We bought it for $500, gutted it, built it strong and went everywhere in it! It had zero systems and we loved it. We knew then we needed to upgrade and go full time. So, we sold it as money towards our bus.”
FTC: If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
LB: “Started this whole mobile home adventure sooner.”
FTC: Where's the best place in the world you've camped at?
LB: “Our home dropzone Skydive, New England. It's not about the facilities, but about the activities (jumping from planes and nightly debrief by campfire) and most importantly, about the people we call our skyfamily. Fellow adventurers. They are our people, just like all of you reading this. Our community, our family, our tribe of unconventional who are willing to cast off for the next adventure. We do also love a lot of Maine and New Hampshire, especially Acadia national park for the views and hiking. Erik also has family in the national Adirondack park and we do spend time up there as well.”
FTC: How long did it take to get business rolling (pun intended)?
LB: “We are just starting rolling now. It's happening naturally and we are trying to figure out how to keep up and be more efficient. Hoping to afford a small specialty electric sourdough oven to put on the bus soon. We already have a conventional propane oven... full size to cook our food. We are close to kitchen build out and look forward to our first bakes of ‘Luna Bread’ on our bus.
“Kendra is also an essential oils distributor with Young Living and that has been such a blessing and a stable income during this crazy time. I highly recommend that opportunity to others on wheels. Especially since most of us in our community try to seek sustainable, earth and skin friendly, chemical free, plant-based products for our wellness! It's a win-win! Since Young Living is the only essential oils company working with the FDA and internal use approved and pure oils, we use them for cooking. Wait until you taste our sourdough baked with essential oils. Testing lemon, Rosemary loaves now.”
FTC: What advice can you give to others who wish to start a business ‘on wheel’?
LB: “Make sure you do something you already love and support. Invest in your passions! You owe it to yourselves. We know you already understand that concept if you are living full time on wheels.”
FTC: If you have one place left to travel to (or return to) in the world, where would it be and why?
LB: “Haha! Like choosing one child over another! Our wish list is vast! As we build and follow our beautiful community on their adventures, we are keeping a list of must-sees. We do love Arizona and Florida and will definitely go back there.”
FTC: What's next for Luna Bus and her people?
LB: “Finish this build and get rolling. By that time, we'll have the hang of bread sales, sewing and income through the lifestyle of Young Living. We look forward to seeing each of you out there on the road! If you see us, come say hi, and break bread with us! Let's share campfire stories.”
You know we will, Luna Bus! Thanks so much for the interview.
All photos credited to Luna Bus
All writing Copyrighted to Fern the Camper