Four women living their dream

Ruth Lawson
Ruth – “posh camping”

As off-grid life moves rapidly from fringe activity towards the mainstream, we profile four women who have built businesses around the growing demand to step off the treadmill without dropping out of the race.

First comes Ruth Lawson, founder of canvaschic.com which offers 3-star camping holidays in France and the rest of Europe. A traditional camping holiday usually means either being in a row with hundreds of other campers or really going outback with a tiny tent on your back. Canvaschic offers 12 individually and stylishly furnished Yurts.

Each is designed to accommodate two adults (in a double bed) and has 2 camp beds for small children under 12.

There are 9 Yurts which have been designed with young families in mind. In addition to these there are 4 communal cooking tents (one for each group of three yurts) with fully equipped kitchens including fridges, cookers, pots and pans, crockery etc. No need to bring anything!

A group of three Yurts with a kitchen makes an ideal set up if you want to make a group booking with family or groups of friends.

The further three yurts are more hidden away in the forest and are offered for couples and honeymooners. They have tiny private camp kitchens (basic camp equipment stove, cooler, and crockery), and many optional extras.

Next up is Helen Carey, founder of vintage-vacations.com, where you can book a vacation in a vintage trailer. After spending countless hours on the internet searching for any and all information that she could find on any type of pre-1950’s travel trailers or campers with little to no luck, Helen, 44, decided to create a website that could serve as a home base and info site for the few fellow vintage trailerites.

When I finally got the website loaded on the net, I thought that perhaps I might get about 5-10 visitors a month in the beginning, she said. Much to my surprise , I had 5 hits on the first day and was getting about 30 hits a day by the end of the first Month. After having the site up for about 9 months I realized that there was enough trailerites in the So Cal area that I was going to hold a rally. The following spring I held my first rally with 27 units in attendance and a visit from Trailer life magazine that ended up running a one page story on the event, and that is when it all started changing, My life that is ! What was a hobby was about to go into full blown obsession!

About this time I sold my second personal trailer, a fully restored 51 Spartanette to a good friend and bought several more to take it’s place. Several more magazine articles were written about me and what I was doing with the preservation of trailers. Shortly after that I was contracted to restore a trailer for a couple. They wanted a quality restored trailer, but at that time no one was doing that for others. I told them that I would only be able to work on it on the weekend as I had to go to work.

Up until that point in time, I had spent the previous 10 years as an Art Director/Prop master in the film industry where I designed and built sets and wacky props for Television Commercials. With some 260 commercials and music videos under my belt, I was beginning to loose interest in that field and started looking more towards the trailers. One day during the time that I was doing my 2nd Client restoration in my driveway at home, I was working on a commercial shoot with a Director from hell that pushed me over the edge and I simply walked off the set and never looked back. 3 days later, I signed a lease on my first location. Within 1 month of that time everything took off for me, and I soon had 5 employees working with me to help get the huge amount of projects out the door that were lining up. A few months after that I had a big article in Los Angeles Magazine.

Our third female off-grid entrepreneur, former press officer Elizabeth Tom, was toting a Native American teepee to Festivals when she found her vocation running Cornish-tipi-holidays.co.uk. Her grandfather had a farm in Cornwall so her biggest difficulty, where to get the land ,was solved. Liz, 46, now has 40 teepees on 16 acres and a lake. When the timbers creak and the canvas flaps like a sale, its elemental.

The final lady has been featured here before two years ago we mentioned whitepod.com, a group of white geodesic domes in the Swiss Alps have become one of the most popular spots for eco-skiers. Its founder is Sofia de Meyer, 32-year-old wife of a City of London banker who had had to work like crazy the first few years to pay back the loans on the superbly luxurious little pods she designed and built

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