By Andrea McArthur
Kelly Holcroft’s path to owning and operating Sydney’s first caravan bar, ‘That Vintage Caravan’, is one of passion, a desire to put heart and soul into doing what you love and an unplanned business. After falling for a caravan intended solely to store the remaining items from her "vintage extravaganza" wedding, Kelly's first caravan "Sweet Jane" was converted into a pink Travelling Teahouse, never actually to be used as storage. From that time ‘That Vintage Caravan’ was born and Kelly has been adding to her family of travelling caravan's with the recent addition of "Spencer" (a more masculine character!).
Usually a creator of experiences for her guests, today Kelly shares some of her own experiences on her ‘That Vintage Caravan’ journey with us!
Kelly, please describe the concept of ‘That Vintage Caravan’.
Our set up is perfect for those looking to create a memorable experience for their guests – one that is talked about for years to come!
Available for hire our beautiful vans are stylish, charming and offer a unique service. They’re perfect for a wedding, engagement party, bucks or hen’s day, kitchen tea, bridal shower, birthday corporate gig, product launch, Christmas gathering – any occasion really! From our handsome vintage mobile bar (Spencer) and delightful travelling teahouse (Sweet Jane) we offer a range of catering options to suit all tastes and budgets - including a simple drinks package morning or afternoon nibbles or a full morning High Tea experience. We’re on wheels so can bring our old world style to you at any place or time. ‘That Vintage Caravan’ is also available to attend fairs, festivals, fetes and as well as private photo shoots.
Can you share your vision of a great event or gathering?
A fabulous party always has a theme or includes an element of surprise (like a vintage caravan bar)! It also involves great company, great music, great food (and wine) and gives people a reason to unite and celebrate in the name of FUN!
Have you always had a passion for vintage?
I love collecting things with a history or a story. It makes them more interesting and precious. I also love a bit of up-cycling. There’s nothing better than giving old stuff a new life. As a child I was constantly crafting so I think it is just a natural progression. I got a new sander for mother’s day last year – it was the best present ever! What led you to making the leap from events to ‘That Vintage Caravan’ business owner? I have worked in finance for the last 7 years and that’s the main reason I started this business. I needed something else in my life other than numbers… a creative outlet and a project that I was passionate about.
The leap wasn’t planned. Things slowly came together after my hubby and I got married. The wedding was a vintage extravaganza. Following the big day I found it hard to part with my special treasures. My collection in fact continued to grow. With our little house bursting at the seams we (my hubby) decided I needed more space and suggested a caravan would be a good space to store my bits and pieces. And it just went from there!
The first van was purchased from the Southern Highlands (it was never used as storage). Sweet Jane is a Travelling Teahouse. She took about 9 months to convert. My handsome Spencer (a mobile bar) followed about 9 months later. He’s the new man in my life!
What skills have you brought over from your previous career experiences into ‘That Vintage Caravan’?
I have been in communications, events and marketing for last 20 years so I guess I bring all of those skills with me. I’ve worked across a variety of fields including the not for profit sector, financial services and local Government. In what seems like a lifetime ago I was also a teacher.
How did you devise the caravan's personalities, Spencer and Ms Sweet Jane?
The personality for each van came easy. Spencer is named after the Charlie Chaplin (aka Sir Charles Spencer). He was a strong, iconic character who made people feel happy… and that’s what I want my business to do. Jane gets her identity from Jane Austen one of my all time favourite authors.
What are your favourite events to work on?
Hard to say really, I love all of the parties that I do for different reasons. We’ve helped celebrate weddings, engagements, Christmas parties, baby showers and hen’s days. Actually I did a 100th birthday not so long ago. That was pretty spesh! Not many get the chance to be involved in such a significant event. It was a really beautiful day, filled with love and joy.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I am a bit of a night owl and do my best work late in the evening. My biz is a one lady show so I do it all. I still work 3 days a week (in finance) so I just try to fit things in where I can. There is no routine. I am very lucky to have a supportive partner and a great family who help me – which makes things so much easier.
Where to from here with That Vintage Caravan?
I’d love a fleet of vintage caravans. That’d make me a happy little camper!
What advice do you have for others who might be considering a jump into a small business?
An old boss once told me ‘fake it till you make it’ nobody really knows what they’re doing so smile, be confident and just keep going! And you know what? It’s true!
I use this saying when I start to feel lost or insecure things about how ‘wonderful’ everybody is. Creating a business is daunting. There are so many things to learn and just when you think you’ve got it under control something else pops up. You need to be true to yourself, trust your instincts and work hard!
Thank you Kelly for your time and sharing your story with us! For more vintage goodness follow That Vintage Caravans' adventures on Instagram instagram.com/thatvintagecaravan and to find out more details about Kelly's unique setup go to www.thatvintagecaravan.com.au. _
Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as a Senior Graphic Designer at StartJG Middle East – Dubai. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. You’ll find her sharing design related musings via Twitter and Instagram @andyjanemc.