Today's spotlight is on family run Scottish wedding entertainments business, The Boho Bus Business!
Husband and wife team, Claire & Andrew's vision was born from dreams of travelling through the roaring Scottish highlands in a camper van, whilst creating a mobile business from their adventures.
Claire & Andrew took the leap to make their dream a reality, and the refurbishment of a stunning vintage 1978 VW camper van called Martha began!
The Boho Bus Business has continued to grow its services while Martha's renovation concludes, with luxury photo booths , cupcake bars, and even a vintage tuck shop available for hire now.
Read on to learn more about Claire & Andrew's beautiful journey, and all the twists and turns along the way.
Tell us a bit about you, the person behind the brand?
We are Andrew, Claire and our 5-year-old son Brodie. Even before Brodie was born, and the Boho Bus Business existed, this was always going to be a family business with our quality of life and work/life balance at the centre of all decisions that would impact on the time we have together.
We didn’t have a clear idea or vision for our business straight away. However, what we were certain of, was what we didn’t want and what was never going to provide us with happiness and more time together.
Shock, horror, we weren’t happy in our normal, conventional, jobs, that essentially gave us “existence money” and the impending sense of doom before every shift was not something either of us were prepared to settle for.
Truth is, it has been the perfect relationship and set of circumstances to get our business to where it is now, granted there has been a lot of determination, stubbornness and of course the obligatory blood, sweat and tears that anything that’s worth anything requires, but its our wee family that have made our dream into a reality.
All three of us bring something completely different to our business, but, when combined, it just seems to work. Brodie, is our motivation and daily reminder of the importance of getting it right, having just dropped him off at School with his wee primary 1 friends, we are acutely aware of how quickly time passes. We live in a great wee village, in one of the most beautiful Countries in the world, and the nature of our business, means we are working in some stunning locations, lochs, castles, forest retreats etc, so to us it made perfect sense to be able to work events together as a family and enjoy our time together in these locations, whilst feeling more than slightly smug that this is part of our job!
Like a lot of parents, we feel guilty about not having enough time together, this is our way of
addressing that and creating memories together, rather than muddling through and regretting it later. Of course, we want the financial security that everyone does from work, but since Brodie came along, it’s always been about, balance and quality time together, as far as we’re concerned life is too short and “my people” are too important for anything else to be an option.
Claire is the brains, organisation, attention to detail, practical thinking, and overall calming and eternally positive driving force behind, not just our business but everything else.
Claire has transformed a smorgasbord of increasingly elaborate and expensive dreams born out of a perpetual mid life crisis and need for escapism into a viable business and a unique and bespoke service with a strong emphasis on customer service and exceeding expectations. We would not have a business (or possibly a home) without Claires contribution.
Andrew (me) finds expensive vintage vehicles online and buys them on a whim, with no practical skills or knowledge on how to restore them. I have strong feelings that things will probably be fine and usually just go with that!
How did your vision/passion begin?
Me and Claire both did the same job, like many jobs it was a tad soul destroying, monotonous, not well paid and just took up way too much time, and was generally not fun, but looking back, it was an essential part of our journey.
Feeling a bit lost and aware that this is most probably (who knows?) our one shot at life, we quit and booked up for Australia! (No Brodie at this point, so why not?). Having previously quit several jobs to go to Australia, the plan was simple, although this time it
wouldn’t involve fruit picking or youth hostels. We would get a campervan (wee Gympie you bullet proof legend!) and travel up and down the East Coast.
Australia has always had a special place in our hearts and we fitted right into the lifestyle. We knew this was going to be a one off trip, before we started thinking about kids, and that our days spent at the beach or on the road were not a “realistic” lifestyle for homeowners and future parents. The trade-off, being a sensible job with security and safe decisions was probably something we would have to do “for the best” at some point.
Realistically though, nobody is going to look back at their lives and wish they did more things that made them unhappy and spent less time with the people that they love, and we couldn’t really get our heads round the fact that just because we were about to start a family that we should lose who we are as people, surely there had to be a happy medium.
After a weird night in Gympie in an industrial estate in Melbourne and upsetting a few locals due to my poor lane management skills, whilst crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we headed straight for Nimbin.
Now, I wanted to visit this town for a few different reasons, but one thing this town showed us, was that “alternative” ideas, concepts, communities and economies are not only possible but as simple as you want to make it. (In theory). Life lessons learned we move on to Hervey Bay, only to see more of the same, families working together, decent standard of living, not crippled by stress, doing jobs they enjoy (apart from the waitress at the Chinese restaurant across from the campsite, she was just mean!)) and most importantly they appeared to have that all important balance between working and not working.
Our first realisation was that if we have to work for a living then its at least got to be something we enjoy, that was the first building block of our business. Maybe its because we were living in a campervan at the beach that when discussing things we enjoyed it seemed to keep coming round to campervans and nice places to stay in campervans, as major contributors to our happiness.
As a landscape photographer, and a bit of a dreamer, I thought we could travel Scotland in a
campervan, and make a living taking and selling photos as we go, we could always add a coffee machine to top up the income…turns out, not many people want coffee from a van that people are living in…as well as being a dreamer I also don’t really think things through too much!
No worries, we could get a towable pizza oven and do that…work festivals in the summer and take the rest of the year off…don’t know how to make pizza, and we don’t have a food production area that would meet the necessary requirements…not really a details guy either!
Anyway, we return home and pick up a 1978 VW, it had shiny paint, so no need to ask any questions, or consult someone who actually knows about 45 year old vehicles…probably just needs a wee service and a fresh set of curtains…
Nope, it was fucked! Apparently, birds nests in the offside rear wheel arch, builders foam and sticky back plastic were not standard issue car parts in the 70’s…who knew?
Turns out that was a good thing though, with Brodie on the way, if we were going to keep this bus, and a dream of a better life alive, (and ourselves) we had to fully restore the bus, from the ground up. Which ultimately is what gave us the business idea that we needed now more than ever!
If we could retain the vintage and iconic style of this vehicle, whilst improving her with modern technologies and safety additions then why not offer alternative wedding transport? Claire then came up with the idea of using the bus as a photobooth as well, and set about coming up with the design of the bus interior, the construction of the website, finding local suppliers to provide luxury cupcakes for the boot space, a champagne bar, and retro tuck shop were added as optional extras and an admin system to manage our bookings was designed, implemented and refined…whilst Claire was busy with this, I found us a 1968 pink and cream Euro Camper 9ft caravan, (on my phone, Claire was hogging the computer with “work stuff”) which we bought that day, it was 500 miles away in England, but she’s really pretty and will look cool behind the VW!
Apparently, mechanics won’t fit a tow bar to your car with 30 minutes notice!
Once we got her home (turns out people deliver caravans, so it worked out) she was in great condition (bone dry) and her full restoration is underway.
So from a conversation in the back of Gympie on a beach on the other side of the world, we ended up with a beautiful fully restored 1978 bus, to transport customers to their weddings, the only VW photobooth in Scotland, a dinky wee caravan photo booth, that’s also going to earn her keep as a vintage tea room, location for Lochside proposals and a stand alone vintage booth with custom designed bespoke sets complete with luxury cupcakes, we think that’s plenty to be getting on with for now. Not looking to build an empire or make gazilliions.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a modern camper that we will all stay in whilst working all over Scotland. We think that’s not a bad wee compromise between our old life and being “responsible” adults. We work more hours than we ever have, because we are passionate about what we do, but there’s work and there’s work, and we’re pretty lucky to be able to absolutely love what we do!
What’s your favourite part of doing what you do?
When booking our services, customers have told us “its always been my dream to have an old VW bus or vintage caravan (careful what you wish for) wither our customers follow through on this dream at some point in their life, we will probably never know, but it feels pretty damn good to make peoples dreams come true even if it is for just one day!
Seeing their expressions and reactions is extremely satisfying and confirmation that we got it right and were able to provide our customers with special memories of their own.
Selfishly my second favourite part, is knowing when we finish work, I only have a short trip to the nearest loch or forest were “my people” are waiting in our (non-vintage) campervan. Then its time, for camp fires, smores, much needed time as a couple, a wee bit of photography before, heading somewhere for breakfast and doing it all again.
What one piece of advice would you give to couples?
At some point, probably at least a few days before your big day, try and switch off from all things wedding, leave it to the people you have intrusted to make your big day special, chill, enjoy and be present in the moment, when you look back, you don’t want to remember constant stress. If you’ve trusted us with your special day, then rest assured, we’re going to get it right for you, and put our heart and soul into the bespoke services you will receive.
Shop around, there are lots of providers out there, we encourage you to compare our services and prices with other providers. We know how hard money is to come by (been restoring a classic bus for 8 years!) before you part with it, be sure you are satisfied with what standard of service that money is providing you with!
What attracted you to our alternative wedding directory?
Mainstream has never really understood us, and we’re ok with that! We instinctively seek out people that get “alternative” is a good thing.
What has been your favourite wedding so far and why?
The first wedding we did was brilliant, the guests were over the moon, we identified areas we could refine and improve upon, the feedback was reassuring, and we got additional bookings from it. However, it was not my favourite, we knew there was room for improvement. Our first paid gig, allowed us to sit down and reflect on the fact that we had just successfully completed our first independent event, exceeded our clients’ expectations, got amazing social media content, had an absolute blast doing it, and made a decent wage…at last!
Living an alternative lifestyle and having an alternative business that facilitates that life whilst
balancing it all with mainstream expectations like paying a mortgage and keeping up with all the loan repayments (there are a lot of loan repayments!) is far from a cop out or an easy option. That first event showed us that our dreams that we fought so hard for are slowly but surely becoming a reality.
There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes for every event, but even with all the admin, and personal touches for that first event combined with the 3 hour customer facing booking, we had made more than we would’ve in a week in our previous jobs and most importantly, we had just identified that it was financially viable to free up 6 additional days of family time, (in theory) we are not there yet, but all the early indications are looking good! That first paid event was a massive relief, there have been a lot of sleepless nights and self-doubt
along the way, so I think it’s a booking we will always remember as a very significant point in our journey.
Who is your biggest icon, and why?
Bob Marley- “Open your eyes and look within, are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”
The answer was a resounding NO!...and the Boho Bus Business was born!...8 years later!
What’s for dinner?
Spaghetti and meatballs, glass of irn bru and whatever I can raid from the wee mans chocolate stash for dessert!
Love it!!! We absolutely love hearing all about our Directory members background stories and how they came to start their businesses. Well done to Andrew, Claire and Brodie for going after their dreams.