Lindsey Maxwell ’14 Embarks on the Ultimate Adventure

Lindsey Maxwell ’14 launched van tuning company Featherbuilt in 2020 and hasn’t looked back since. She hopes to inspire others to embark on entrepreneurial paths and experience new adventures.

The rise of COVID-19 in early 2020 brought many things — masks, social distancing, and hours of binge-watching TV — but what’s likely to stick around longer than others is the quarantine program.

Many start them, few finish, and even fewer go on to do good work. Lindsey Maxwell ’14 falls into the last category after turning her quarantine project into a full-fledged business.

Maxwell and her partners launched Featherbuilt on the driveway in Denver, Colorado in 2020. The two-person team specializes in elevating the travel experience for adventurers across the United States, renovating vans into custom living spaces and offering customers do-it-yourself products. At a time when road trips are exploding, Maxwell has seized on the opportunity to grow in an industry she already feels right at home.

After graduating in 2014, Maxwell moved to Charlotte to teach preschool, a role very different from her current job. A year and a half later, Maxwell left her life in the US and moved to Italy to work as an au pair, an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. It was at this stage of her life that she truly fell in love with travel, and soon Featherbuilt’s passion began to grow.

“When I lived and worked in Italy, 75% of my work was travel, and I absolutely fell in love with making travel a regular part of my life,” says Maxwell. “In 2018, when I was wrapping up my life in Italy, I stumbled across the blog of a woman who converted a van into a tiny house and traveled all over the country for a living. I knew it was me what needs to be done.”

Back in the US, Maxwell purchased a Sprinter van and started her tuning career with the help of her father. Little did she know that van would change her life forever, as she met her partner and co-owner of Featherbuilt after a few months of driving in her new home on wheels. In the early stages of starting his own van conversion business, it was a match made in heaven just in time for the COVID-19 attack and quarantine projects to take over. For Maxwell and her partner, their quarantine project is bigger than most, as she bought a second van, which they teamed up to make home.

“There was absolutely no hesitation in starting this business because there were few other options at the time,” explained Maxwell. “My partner Patrick officially quit his job in 2019 to get Featherbuilt running, and I’ve been working seasonally while the van travels, so we have nothing to lose. Jumpstarting Featherbuilt during COVID is perfect because We can still work together individually and work hard to make money while staying safe.”

Since the first project collaboration, Featherbuilt has taken many forms and forms, from remodeling for Instagram-famous wolfdog Loki, to customizing more of their own van, to developing conversion systems that can be sold as “do-it-yourself” kits But no matter what stage Featherbuilt is in, one thing has always been important to them: sustainability.

“Once you’ve experienced a sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park or a change of seasons in Yosemite, you want to protect it at all costs,” explained Maxwell. “As part of our manufacturing operations, we see firsthand how much packaging waste disappears from the world (and ultimately our landfills) every day, and we work to reduce that.”

While very proud of their commitment to sustainable construction, Maxwell is most proud of how she created something out of nothing. With no background in business or construction, she has developed into a very successful entrepreneur and is a power tool specialist. Although she learned most of these skills after graduation, she attributes much of her life’s success to her Elon experience.

“People complain about the ‘Elon bubble,’ but I actually think that’s a very important factor in preparing me for life after graduation,” Maxwell said. “I feel a stronger sense of community than many of my friends at other universities, and I have always sought to continue building strong connections in my graduate community. I feel this has brought me a lot of success and joy. “

Maxwell also credits Elon’s study abroad program for sparking her love of travel and showing her many different ways to live. As a loyal member of Sweet Signatures, she learned how to host events, which gave her the experience and courage she needed to become an entrepreneur. She encourages all Elon students to make the most of their time at Elon and make the most of it.

“Take advantage of what Elon offers you,” Maxwell said. “I thought I was too busy in college to pursue other hobbies or more meaningful relationships and it was the least busy time of my life since then. These years were a gift – don’t ruin it .”

For Maxwell, Elon is a place of community and peer interaction, and she truly feels that it is this culture that inspires many alumni, including herself, to follow their passions and succeed.

The future looks bright for Featherbuilt and the adventure vehicle world as they continue to develop their van building system so more people can do it themselves. Through her entrepreneurial story, Maxwell hopes to give women the resources and confidence to try new things. Learn more about Featherbuilt at https://featherbuilt.com/ or find them on Instagram @Feather_built.

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