• Laurén Ettinger

Tiny Home Talks: Art Fuels Skoolie Dream



Melissa built her bus out of a desire to not be tied to one location, to be her own boss, and because it was difficult to find travel accommodations that allowed her to take her pets.


Read our interview with her below: Abe: How long have you been on the road and what inspired you to go out on the road?


Melissa: So February [2022] was my first trip on the road. That's when I moved into the bus. And what inspired me–I've always been fascinated with tiny houses, and I wanted something that… I've always wanted to travel with my pets, so I knew the best concept to travel with pets, take your house with you instead of finding a place that allows you to have pets.


And I sold my house…just to try to rent a house with pets is a nightmare. So I just decided to build my own.


Abe: And how many pets do you have again?


Melissa: Two dogs and a cat.


Abe: How do you currently make money on the road?


Melissa: That's it right now (waves hands towards displays of hand-crafted purses, etc.). I’m semi-retired and I sold my house, so I lived off the sale of my home and the checks from work. And I just sell arts and crafts and things like that, and hopefully, I'll start another company. I want to do the countertops like I've been doing (referring to her DIY countertops in the bus).


Mostly my photography sells more than anything else. So a lot of photography, and I do local photography. That's why I like to be places for more than just a couple days. Because when I was in like Savannah, Georgia, I sold a ton of Savannah, Georgia photos because I went around, did photos, got them printed, got them all set up, and then sold them. So that kept me in Savannah for two months plus, and I just lived off of that, and so everywhere I go, I try to get there–first thing go around, do some photo shoots.


Abe: And then you just go to art galleries?


Melissa: I actually sell them in the park, then go to places. Try to...try to… you know, hustle them out…


Abe: What are the pros to giving up a traditional lifestyle?


Melissa: The availability to be creative. I just get a sense of pride that I have that I put forth all this work. And I can take it with me wherever I want to go without anybody telling me where to go or how to go is huge.


I mean everybody says the freedom to travel, well sometimes there's freedom to travel, then there was not freedom to travel…[you know] break down. I don't want that I really don't want to move, I want to park it and live in it and just enjoy it.


I don't have a boss telling me what to do. That's the biggest thing right now. And I had a great job. And I had great bosses. Yeah, and I didn't have time to do things I would have enjoyed to do. I worked every weekend. And I'm just like no, I'm just… I'm done. I'm done. I want to create my weekends. No, every day is a weekend!


Then the other big huge thing that I really do enjoy about it is that I'm off-grid. I'm not…I'm not using any electricity. I'm not, you know, water is practically free, but slow, small living is what I really wanted to do and be sustainable. So I really want to be sustainable as much as I possibly can. And I know I drive a diesel bus, but I park it as long as I want to use it for something good. So I'm working on that right now…I'm joining the disaster relief teams. And I think that's going to be just awesome. If I'm enjoying this so much, I should at least share it and be able to do something.


Abe: Do you have a favorite memory so far?


Melissa: Oh my goodness.


I think just meeting the people on the road is my favorite thing, and it's everywhere! You know, I mean, it's not just in places like this [Skoolie UP,] it's everywhere. People will come right out and start talking, and you know when you're boondocking, you meet those people. And the fact that it inspires other people, like for people to buy buses, just in my little town.


I think just to be an inspiration to others and mentor them to, you know, don't be afraid and do it. Yeah, just go and do it. Yeah, just because, especially at my age. You got to do it now, or you know, you don't have time. Just do it.



Follow Melissa on Instagram and Facebook at coddiwomple.express


If you are interested in her products message her or check out on Etsy at AlissameDesigns.





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