Would You Live in This Ultra-Hip Customized Camper Van?
The couple behind Northeast Philly startup Vantures is ready to build you “the camper van of your dreams.”
Are you ready to sell your house and travel the country in a custom van? Vantures founders Laura Yerkes and Roman Darashenka are ready to take your order. The (engaged!) owners of the Northeast Philly startup talked to us about their ultra-hip customized camper vans.
WHAT WE MAKE
Roman Darashenka: We turn Mercedes Sprinters into the camper van of your dreams. A custom build is about $60,000 and a standard build is about $20,000. Those don’t include the price of the Sprinter.
HOW WE MET
Laura Yerkes: We’re high-school sweethearts. We met in the freshman year of high school, when he was at Father Judge and I was at Little Flower. And we’re getting married this August!
Roman: My dad had a truck dealership, and I’ve worked on Sprinters my whole life. Laura came up with this crazy idea that she wanted to live out of a van once she was done college. In 2017, Laura and I built our van and lived the van life, traveling all of North America. Once COVID hit, we came back to Philly to make this a business.
ON OUR CUSTOMERS
Laura: It’s all over the spectrum. Retired people who want to see the country. Young people who want alternative living. People sell their houses and move into the van and live it up from there. I usually get about 15 new calls a day.
WHEN WE HAD TO TELL A CLIENT NO
Laura: One wanted a whole porcelain bathtub in the van that could be lugged outside so they could bathe anywhere they wanted. It was a fun idea, but…
HOW LONG A BUILD TAKES
Roman: For a standard build, one month. Custom builds can be two to three months. We did 35 vans in 2020 and 75 last year.
ON MAKING VAN LIFE WORK
Laura: We really try to prioritize creative storage. The layout and materials make our vans feel homey. You don’t feel like you’re crammed into a tin can. And I talk a lot to the clients and give them recommendations for cooking, storing their food, and living in their van full-time.
WHERE YOU CAN TAKE OUR VANS
Roman: That’s the beauty of them. They’re not technically RVs. RVs have restrictions. Anywhere you can drive these, you can set up shop. You can take it to the beach. You can take it to the Poconos. People take them to campgrounds. We’ve even had clients go stay in the van in South Philly!
Published as “Road Trippin'” in the May 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.