Caravan Social Club hit the road this past year, traveling from coast-to-coast on their nationwide tour, meeting over 100 creatives along the way. Outfitting a vintage 1970’s Shasta, they made a mobile content studio with the goal of connecting brands and influencers by hosting content creation, video interviews and more. They plan to hit the road again in 2022 to Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota and back to New York, just in time for Fashion week in September. What’s different for them in 2022? They started to reimagine their short-term stay properties ( there are currently five properties between Brooklyn, Hudson Valley and three in Minnesota) by morphing them into content spaces to curate, welcome creatives, set up social selling opportunities and most importantly, create fun experiences between brands and their community of content creators.
The duo Claudine DeSola & Janine Just have over 20+ years of experience creating pop-up shops, content studios, curated content spaces, events, fashion shows and more. Individually they have created fashion shows for over 4,000 people, but these days, the duo have joined forces to create more intimate events that are individualized for the content creator to connect with cool brands in fab spaces.
The team understands the importance for brands to connect with creatives and vice versa, creatives want to find brands they choose to support and share among their community of followers. The goal through all of their work is the significance of human connection. The team strives to build events where guests can truly express themselves, whether that means bringing their guitar and sharing a song they just wrote, choreographing a new dance routine for TikTok, showing off the latest tricks in roller skating or skateboarding, or simply sharing a coffee in the comfort of new connections. All their experiences try to bring a sense of enjoyment around the opportunity for people to be creative. Self – expression, inspiration, discovery, networking and having FUN, are all significant pillars to Caravan and have been built into the company’s DNA since day 1.
Caravan was started back in 2005 as a store inside a RV. It would road trip around the NYC streets, quite often parking in the Meatpacking District. It sold fashion apparel, accessories, and unique gift items. Eventually, it started to morph into different experiences. It was still a RV, but concept stores were created, then a content studio, talent space and more. Caravan had stores in NoHo and on the Upper East Side and then later transformed to a content studio inside hotel spaces. The space was always curated with everything from décor, art collaborations, fashion, and accessories. Caravan has been collaborating with brands through the years starting with a concept showroom on Great Jones street. Caravan has worked with numerous hotels to bring experiences to different properties from fashion week events, to the best night of sleep in their curated SLEEP ROOM, to designer cocktail bars, to pajama parties with your besties, to a 3-D room by Sylvia Heisel. When the pandemic started, Caravan had to close its physical doors and reimagine how they could still have the community come together.
Claudine DeSola and Janine Just decided to create Caravan Social Club, originally a virtual experience. They began creating shows with creatives from comedians to choreographers to dancers to magicians, every month raising money for charities while providing a social selling platform for brands to be integrated into the shows. The team produced eight virtual shows raising money for charities and enlisting the help of over 100 creatives including Alyce Chan, Gianmarco Soresi, Michael Judson Berry, Whitney McClain, AJ Smith, Nichole Galicia, Gabrielle Ruiz, Amy Hargraeves and many others. The shows were co -hosted by Amy DePaolo.
In the summer of last year it seemed that there would be the opportunity to return to in-person, personalized events and Claudine and JJ purchased a 1978 Shasta they nicknamed “Bonkers” and designed her to be their little “disco on wheels”. Caravan went on a road trip throughout the tri-state area meeting over 100 creatives who shared some of their favorite brand discoveries. Photographer and film-maker, Thomas Concordia, joined their team to interview all the guests that hopped aboard the Caravan.
What was the goal of bringing the Caravan Road Trip experience back?
We wanted to create this mobile experience so we could share with creatives a interactive curation inside and outdoors where people were able to pull up a chair that happened to be from Novogratz X SJP, and enjoy a beverage and or snack with us while trying on some shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and more. The inside of the Caravan was designed by the team and decked out with cool pillows & blankets from Spoonflower, including personalized CARAVAN pillows, art from Oliver Gal Art by creative director Lola Sanchez, and wallpaper by Graham & Brown along with tons of 1970’s vintage Etsy finds. We had a record player with tons of 70s albums, classic novels and novelty board games from the era too.
Our goal was to create a cool space that people wanted to come and check out. Each guest was treated to a mini photoshoot inside the Caravan as well as any cool spots we visited that day. Thomas Concordia captured interviews of everyone that will soon be released in an upcoming film montage (more of that to come soon). While visiting with us, fellow creatives were able to discover new brands and check-out launches from well known ones, including LeSportsac, sunglasses from Velvet Eyewear, Everybody Water, essential soaps and oils from SallyeAnder, some yummy snacks from Bakerly, handcrafted jewelry from Gillian Trask, luxury skincare from RejuvAus, and trendy shoes from Rag and Co. It was the opportunity to connect cool people to cool products and apps. Speaking of app, the duo teamed up with ibble to have each creative share a fun tip, trick or hack with the ibble community.
Where did the Caravan park?
Just like when we curated the inside of the Caravan, we also curated where the Caravan would go. We went from gardens to skate parks to cool restaurants and even a sunflower field. We started in Bushwick, Brooklyn, traveled Upstate, then headed to Connecticut, the Jersey Shore, Hoboken, The Hamptons, Wading River, Coney Island and New York City. There were so many places we wanted to go,but, this was a trial to see if people enjoyed the experience. Some of the places we stopped included The Aberdeen Community Garden, All Night Skate (a roller-rink themed bar), Ten Hope (hip restaurant in Williamsburg), Muscoot Farms, the botanical gardens of Bartlett Arboretum, NAIA in the Capri Hotel in Southampton, Wildwood State Park, The Waterdrinker Sunflower Farm, The Howard Schoor Art Gallery, The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, Liberty Harbor RV Park, The Coney Island Boardwalk, and Sour Mouse, this awesome bar to play pool and check out local street artists’ work.
After the East Coast how did you get to the West Coast?
We knew we wanted to see our friends in L.A and also meet some new ones that we connected with on instagram. We’ve been dreaming of something with the team over at Novogratz and their pop-up store in Venice Beach made for the perfect backdrop. We got the opportunity to work with Outdoorsy, which is all about road tripping, and found this fantastic Airstream from the amazing filmmaker, Jeff Dolen. We went out there with Thomas Concordia to continue filming our short film about these amazing creatives and had Katy Prichett join us to help create portraits along the way.
Were any of the products on board available to the consumer? How did you bring social selling into the mix ?
Yes, we incorporated some social selling where we literally would pull over on the side of the road and start filming a LIVE segment where we would show fashion, beauty, and more. In LA, we did an awesome segment with Pop Cosmetics inside the Novogratz store which was super fun. These opportunities give the ability to connect with the customer while showing them a glimpse into our trip.
We plan to do a lot more live shows with talkshoplive, especially in our content houses, with quick demos being able to show the latest paint palettes, wallpaper designs, decor, what’s on the stove, backyard furniture, art & craft projects, what’s in the kitchen and a lot more.
Think of these spaces as mini showrooms for the brands where we build in layers of opportunity. We feel this is going to be a huge trend as a company, where we can open our events up to consumers around the world. We can now create curated spaces, sell & stream, right from these experiences…with even inviting a few familiar faces to join forces along the way on these segments.
With the idea of LIVE STREAMING and SOCIAL SELLING, there are no filters. We are just being us trying to share our discoveries. We think we are good at spotting trends and new brands and ideas whether that be a beauty, art, cooking or gardening we love to discover and share. Nothing we do is overproduced; it is raw and real. We hope to come off as authentic when we share the brands and ideas we discover. We always say, if an event or experience is not fun, then we don’t want to do it.
Where did you go on the West Coast?
We spent three days on the West Coast and visited three awesome places. The first day, we parked outside a brand new boutique hotel, E-Central located in Downtown Los Angeles. That same day, we made our way to The Inner Gardens which sells awesome art pieces for the garden and home. We spent two days at the Novogratz Pop Up and had fun posing with their Stevie Nicks mural and exploring their eclectic collection of furniture, decorations, and wallpaper prints. We were so lucky to get to do something with Novogratz and be in the heart of Abbot Kinney, by far, one of the coolest streets. It certainly was a vibe – bright, fun and conversational.
Who came out for the West Coast?
We got to meet some pretty amazing people including Allison Scagliotti, Brent and Shane Kinsman, Whitney McClain, Kate Linder, Katie Zamoroli, Candice Heiden, and so many more! You can check out our Instagram to see all the people who stopped by the Caravan.
We got to introduce these creatives to some awesome brands like ESPRO which makes great coffee products, Everybody Water which provides safe drinking water to those who are less fortunate, Joolies Dates, Outdoorsy which is a RV rental service and is where we got our awesome Airstream from, Quartet which has the coolest items to deck out your office.
What is the goal of the interview material?
It takes quite a bit to piece together since Thomas captured hours worth of footage. We’re currently in the editing process of narrowing that down to 90 minutes. The film will be launched mid – year with the main premise focusing on community. For now, you can see some quick takes in our teaser videos of all the amazing creatives. We were really fortunate to meet so many people with such a mix of interests.
At its core, Caravan was always an opportunity to have this social connection. It was amazing how most creatives interviewed responded to the idea of the “experience” and the opportunity to have a sense of “community”. The goal is to connect directly with someone when possible and have them experience something in real life.
What did you come out thinking after meeting 100 creatives?
“Now that I am a mom, my time is even more scarce so I want to keep that in mind for when we create events and content houses so when someone leaves their house to visit with us it is meaningful. We have created a fun space where our guests enjoyed their time, sat on couches and enjoyed an Espro coffee made just for them the way they like it, and they could bring their children, their friends, their dogs and have a good time enjoying their “brand discovery” time. They had their photos taken by incredible photographers and I want to create more spaces where you can have that work / life balance if you need to and you can learn, storytell, discover, inspire, be inspired, network and so much more and come out of it all having FUN. If at the end of our event someone leaves and says I had an “experience” and I also got to check out this cool bag, had an awesome cup of coffee, found out about the coolest new water company, smiled and laughed, made some content – to me that is an event win. – Claudine DeSola
“How cool was this? Looking back at what we were able to accomplish in such a short time-frame with limited resources, it’s always incredible to see all those that came out to support along the way. We really curate such an inspiring community of creatives where we all learn from one another, boost that confidence level and just relish in each other’s accomplishments. Life is hard, especially at this moment, so it’s refreshing to surround yourself with such great talent that we can cheer along, fan, follow and champion each other’s journeys.” – JJ
“The roadtrip and filming gave us the chance to bring people together during a difficult time to feel socially active, make introductions, and share personal stories that reinforce a sense of community, and unity that seems less evident right now.” – Thomas Concordia
What is next?
We love curating spaces. We have been doing that for years, decorating & designing spaces from the wallpaper to even what beverage we are sharing, and we want to continue and expand doing just that. Continuing to create spaces that make people feel comfortable to connect with other creatives, inspire them to create and discover new brands is the continued goal for 2022 and beyond.
Expect a lot more experiential programming: Watch out for our road trip 2.2, content houses and short film from our first road trip post pandemic.
In the meantime, take a quick peek into some of the teaser shorts from each day that showcase creatives from our East Coast tour:
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6
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