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Irie to Aurora: Van Life with Two Roaming Nomads

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I met Noami and Dustin one hot New Orleans day while moving a piano from one house to another.  Dustin was a project manager for a construction company and Noami was an environmental scientist studying the coastal systems in Louisiana.  They seemed like your average couple, but what I discovered throughout our friendship was that they were anything but average.  Like myself, they also suffered from a particularly strong and itching wanderlust.  For this, they found and created a pretty fascinating solution: why not get a van, hit the road, work remotely, and explore?

Thus was born their adventure, which they interestingly named “Irie to Aurora“.  Their time on the road is now nearing its first year of completion.  Along the way, they’ve amassed over 8,400 followers on Instagram.  Here’s a sneak peak into their #vanlife journey.

Who’s idea was this?  How did you come up with it?

I think the idea to buy a van and live on the road was both ours. When Dustin and I met it was one of the first things we talked about, and throughout our relationship, we fantasized about the idea until we finally took the leap. Best idea ever.

We both love to travel. We’ve taken road trips together as often as we could since before we were even dating. As our relationship grew, these trips became more frequent and for extended periods. We also followed other people on social media who were doing the same thing, living on the road. This inspired us to do what we had always dreamt of and talked about.

How long has this journey been and how long do you plan to continue?

It has been eleven months on the road and we would like to sustain this lifestyle for as long as we can. 

How did you come up with the name “Irie to Aurora”?

Noami is from Trinidad, and the word Irie is slang meaning “powerful and pleasing; a state of feeling great.” Initially, when we planned the trip, our destination was Alaska to see the aurora borealis, hence Irie to Aurora. 

What has been your greatest challenge to date?

Dustin works remotely so this requires us to stay on the grid most of the time and often hunt for wifi. His schedule is fluid, so finding a routine has been challenging.

What do you guys do for work while on the road?

Dustin currently works remotely as a construction estimator.  On the road Noami works odd jobs and freelance gigs online.

What have you been the most homesick for?

Overall, I don’t think we’ve been particularly homesick. There have been moments where we reminisce about New Orleans and miss the little things, like the food, and the music, and the people.

In what ways has this trip changed you individually and as a couple?

Living on the road and sharing 80 square feet has come with its fair share of challenges. But I think it has brought us closer together. We’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses in ways we never thought we could. Living in such close quarters 24/7 has forced us to be more mindful of our attitudes and how we impact each other’s “space” because tempers do flare. We’re more compassionate with each other and with ourselves. We have created a space where simplicity can flourish, a lifestyle we have both come to value. Learning to let go and let be, keeping an open heart and mind is the everyday lesson and this attitude has led to so many new friendships and experiences. Overall, life on the road has been deeply transformative, it has brought us closer to ourselves and to each other. Dustin and I are better people because of this decision and we are so grateful for each other and our life together. 

Plans for another road trip in the future?

I think the journey we’re on is perpetual. There will be a few pit stops along the way but that’s all part of it. However, we do have plans for Canada and maybe Central and South America, after Alaska of course.

What was your favorite place along the way?

Hmm… Choosing a favorite place is tough because each place is so unique with its own beauty, but we love Baja, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon. 

Van life might not be for everyone, but their journey is enough to make you want to buy a one way ticket to a random spot on the globe.  In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to be fluid with your roots was once an impossibility that the internet is now making possible.  Perhaps this is a leap we should all consider, at least once in our lives.  Just like Tolkien said, not all those who wander are lost.

What's up!? I'm Katrina. I'm wandering, collecting, witnessing and learning. I'm drawn to all things found at the intersection of art and technology. If I could go back in time, I think I'd be best friends with Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and Cleopatra. When I'm not obsessing about the human endeavor or the nature of time, I'm probably cooking or dancing.

Business

Interview With Interior Designer Taylor Spellman, Host Of “Yours, Mine Or Ours”

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taylor spellman

taylor spellmanTransforming from dancer to interior designer, Taylor Spellman is as creative as they come. Taylor is a recognized interior designer and staging expert in New York with a portfolio of multi-million dollar clientele, including Ryan Serhant of BRAVO’s “Million Dollar Listing.” Her unique style of mixing high end with treasures from Goodwill has earned her a position as host of BRAVO series “Yours, Mine Or Ours” alongside real estate agent Reza Farahan. Her firm TSNY handles 30 million dollar’s worth  of real estate daily. Because of this, Taylor Spellman manages the best team possible including Vice President, Lana Ataman, and Lead Designer, Jacqueline Leung.

Taylor Spellman works with finesse. Her sense of humor and bright personality shines through in her work and as a host for “Yours, Mine Or Ours.” She takes care of her clients by personally taking the time to learn about their lifestyle and how interior design can elevate their lives. During the design process, she gets deep into the nitty gritty, overseeing each stage until completion. Her Instagram and Twitter is flooded with pictures of her projects and bits of advice for aspiring interior designers. Taylor Spellman talks to Owner’s Mag about TSNY, design strategy, and being the host of “Million Dollar Listing”.

 

How did you build a business around interior design?

I built a business around interior design by capitalizing on a niche in the market. When I started, no one was doing interior design just for bachelors. I felt strongly that it was strongly due to the fact that there wasn’t a service being offered versus there being a need for it. I became known as doing interior design for men, and that gave me a competitive edge and people found out about me quicker, and ultimately word of mouth lead to more clients and a full blown firm.

What are some key factors you think about when designing a room?

  1. How does this person really live?
  2. How do you maximize the functionality of the space?
  3. How do I bring my client’s personality into the space to make it reflect who they are and make them feel very much at home?

When do you consider a room “done”?

Accessorizing. People often lay the groundwork but then stop after they have their coffee table, rug, and couch… but a layer of décor delivers the personal touch that make the home feel like you.

What is your average day to day like?

I would love to tell you that I get up and do yoga and relax, but in reality I hop up, get the biggest coffee possible and get going. It is a beautiful and hectic madness. I like to spend the majority of my day on-site with my clients and projects. Sometimes I’ll be in a client’s living room painting custom artwork, sometimes I’ll be running around coordinating contractors and electricians to make sure everything is on point. I am extremely detail oriented so every single piece of the puzzle matters to me.

How has hosting a hit TV show influenced your lifestyle?

It’s been interesting because I’ve been very hard at work for the past ten years, hustling, and trying to make a name for myself. And this show has definitely shifted things over the hill. Needless to say, I don’t know that I’ll ever get over getting recognized. That is something that will always be crazy to me.

What do you look for in a team?

First and foremost I think about work ethic. Is this person willing to work really hard and put in the hours, and be dedicated? Second I think about one’s ability to think outside the box. Interior design and staging change by the second, and there’s really no formula, so I need my team to be able to really think on their feet. And that’s easier said than done.

What was the biggest challenge since starting your business?

My number one challenge has definitely been to ‘stay the course’. There are so many things that come up that really make you truly believe you’re on the wrong path, but if you have enough conviction, dedication and talent, then you just need to remember to stay on track and you will find success.

What is your favorite moment of 2016?

Watching the first episode of ‘Yours, Mine or Ours’ air. It was a very full circle moment for me, getting to see the fruit of my work come alive in a completely different format.

What are some tips you can give to aspiring interior designers?

Figure out what your unique selling point is. Is it your style, your personality? Is it your ability to make clients feel comfortable enough to use their own aesthetic in the place? Figure out what makes YOU unique and run like hell with it. Never stop.

taylor spellman

87 Leonard Street

taylor spellman

87 Leonard Street

taylor spellman

87 Leonard Street

taylor spellman

 

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Business

Leading Ladies In Tech: Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Caitlyn Clark Zigmond

 

Caitlin Clark Zigmond is the Vice President of Product Management at CoreDial. She shares her experience of over 30 years where she has worked with numerous companies under several different capacities. She started out in Hi-Tech as the Director of operations working for a company that built precision hot stages in science and industry, which involved working with one of the first windows based research pieces of equipment. From there, Caitlin decided that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and started her own catering business. Growing up, she cooked at home as both her parents were working, and that influenced her first business. She bought a company with just four employees and grew it to the third largest company in Boulder, Colorado. Caitlin gave up the business to start a family with her partner. Over the next few years, she went from being the first Product Manager for New Global Telecom (NGT), to Product Lead for Hosted PBX, then Advanced Voice at Comcast who acquired Hosted PBX, and finally to CoreDial.

Caitlin spoke about the hurdles she had to face in the workplace and managing a work/life balance. Ruth Bader of the Supreme Court is her female role model because of how she has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career while maintaining a true level of professionalism. Though she’s faced immense challenges and a heavy degree of sexism for her role in a previously all-male space, she has a fierce dedication to equality. Caitlin said it reminds her to connect to all those around her, whether it’s family or a more professional setting. As Caitlin says, “Be open to new things and stay strong on your life’s journey.”

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Business

Justin Wu: 5 Tips for Branding Your Business Online

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From someone who breathes social media, I came across an interesting blog. In that, I’ve learned that social media isn’t just for the use of entertainment. Since each social platform has the potential to help grow your business, Justin Wu, founder of Growth.ly, teaches others how to navigate their way through as an entrepreneur online. As an Instinctual developer, Justin Wu possesses skills in growth hacking to information architecture. Starting off on Snapchat and Instagram, he is also an expert in the field of various social channels. Justin snapchats religiously to help other entrepreneurs conveniently reach their goals. In order to pick up all of the skill-sets of an entrepreneur, the most effective way is to hack the system. Or as he brands it on his snapchat username, be a hackapreneur.

In his own marketing agency, Growth.ly heavily focuses on different marketing tunnels and how each channel matters to your business. In trusted knowledge on social media and marketing, Justin is able to spread his entrepreneurial skill-sets to others. Since startups are rapidly growing more lost and confused, Justin Wu provides tips on helping entrepreneurs brand their business online. Here are 5 tips from Justin Wu for branding your business online.

Be comfortable in front of the camera

Interacting through the camera may be uncomfortable, especially with your face in the front and how you’re speaking to a fake audience. Regardless, Snapchat is still all live and on the spot. Through force, the task will then become routinely. These set of skills should already exist with an entrepreneur’s ability to adapt. As times change, so should you.

 

Chose the right platform

If some devices don’t align well with your business, there are other platforms to acquire. Instagram is the easiest way to get discovered. Snapchat is far more difficult to brand, with the limited time offered to record and the immediate execution of the video for instant feedback. There are also other platforms that exists that you may not know about. To get a better understanding of what you’re putting yourself in, explore and get familiar with the new environment. Know where it’s best to brand your business.

 

Don’t be stubborn, remember long-term vision

Don’t be married to an idea. Let’s just say, perhaps you don’t go on YouTube, or you don’t regularly check Facebook, your relationship with these platforms may influence how much you think their worth is. From your perceptual stigma, you may not think to brand yourself on these devices. The issue here is, your encounter with these different sources can’t counter play on how you plan to expose your business content. If you want the best for your business and to get more customers, don’t chase them. The customers are the main focus of your business, rather than chasing them, it’s simpler to be meeting them where they are and engage in proper contact.

 

Collaborate

In Justin Wu’s work with Samsung and Intel, he strongly pushes for collaboration opportunities. For his other company, Sidevision, it can be tracked by the Warner Bros. The Warner Bros have invested in the company and agreed to take over. This vision to the public gives a positive look to you, making it seem like your connections are strong with experts. Rather than that, collaboration allows ideas to exchange. Everyone has knowledge and skills in different cases, but having the chance to expand your brand to another realm is an opportunity to take up. Taking in more fans is the goal here.

 

Figure out how to create content

Everybody seeks beauty, and with social media always pushing out visual content, your business needs to develop an advantage. By possessing skills in visuals, the aesthetics will do all of the talking to keep your ideal customers stay. In skills such as photography, your content will attract a wide variety of different people. The simplest way to gain attraction, through the peripheral route of persuasion.

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