Are Mobile Experiences the Future of Influencer Events?

Beauty and fashion studio Caravan has launched a mobile content studio, connecting brands and influencers in a traveling vintage RV. Here, the team shares the process and their tips for creating authentic creator events now.

Beauty and fashion studio Caravan outfitted a vintage Shasta RV for a 10-day road trip last month, with the goal of connecting fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands with a variety of creators and influencers across the country.
Beauty and fashion studio Caravan outfitted a vintage Shasta RV for a 10-day road trip last month, with the goal of connecting fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands with a variety of creators and influencers across the country.
Photo: Courtesy of Caravan

Brands meeting consumers exactly where they are has been a welcome trend during the pandemic, with companies like e.l.f. Cosmetics and Southwest Airlines bringing clever activations directly to influencers' and consumers' homes, or Godiva and Ole Henricksen creating activations on wheels. 

The latest steal-worthy example comes from Caravan, a beauty and fashion studio once located in midtown Manhattan, which this summer relaunched as mobile content studio Caravan Social Club. Housed inside a vintage Shasta RV, the company traveled throughout the tri-state area from Aug. 20-30, with the goal of connecting brands and influencers and hosting content creation, video interviews and more.

The mobile-first approach was a reaction to the pandemic, sure—but also a return to Caravan’s roots. “In 2005, Caravan was originally launched as a retail store inside an RV. It would also play host to all sorts of events from album releases, brand launches, celebrity birthday parties and more,” noted founders Claudine DeSola and Janine Just in a joint email interview.

In 2011, they added, Caravan transitioned into a content studio focused on bringing creatives together over video and photoshoots, podcasts, events and more. “We took residency in various [New York] hotels throughout the years, spanning from The Carlton to The Gregory Hotel. The hotels gave us the opportunity to expand into other spaces beyond the studio for photoshoots so we would be able to work on celebrity spec shoots, fashion shows, look books, launches, brand takeovers, media events and more. Over 500 creatives visit the content studio each year.”The vintage vehicle evoked the 1970s vibe the team wanted. “During the pandemic, we spent some time figuring out the Caravan vibe and found that we loved all things retro and vintage and, most importantly, fun and colorful,' they said.The vintage vehicle evoked the 1970s vibe the team wanted. “During the pandemic, we spent some time figuring out the Caravan vibe and found that we loved all things retro and vintage and, most importantly, fun and colorful," they said.Photo: Courtesy of Caravan

So when hotels closed their doors during the pandemic, the team knew it was the right time to pivot back to the mobile concept. DeSola and Just settled on an RV from Indiana-based Custom Campers, which evoked the 1970s feel they were looking for.

“During the pandemic, we spent some time figuring out the Caravan vibe and found that we loved all things retro and vintage and, most importantly, fun and colorful,” said the duo. “Everyone responded to our ‘70s-inspired space we created, from the records to the board games that gave people the opportunity to just chill out in a groovy, colorful environment filled with rainbows and peace signs. We owe the decor to Novogratz, Spoonflower, Graham & Brown and Olivier Gal amongst others.”

Throughout the 10-day trip, Caravan connected with various actors, musicians, foodies and fashion lovers, creating content at unique locations around the tri-state area including community gardens, skate parks, and even a sunflower field in Long Island. “Everywhere we went shared an energy and excitement, and the spaces were as much a part of the narrative of the video diary as the creatives we met them in,” said the team.

That same kind of thoughtful approach went into the brands they collaborated with for the tour. “The goal is true brand discovery. We want people to walk away with something from a brand they never heard about, or something they love that they didn’t know existed," they said, calling out partners LeSportsac, Rag & Co, Rejuvaus, SallyeAnder, Gillian Trask, Bakerly, Everybody Water and Velvet Eyewear.“Everyone responded to our ‘70s-inspired space we created, from the records to the board games that gave people the opportunity to just chill out in a groovy, colorful environment filled with rainbows and peace signs,” said the team.“Everyone responded to our ‘70s-inspired space we created, from the records to the board games that gave people the opportunity to just chill out in a groovy, colorful environment filled with rainbows and peace signs,” said the team.Photo: Courtesy of Caravan

 “We [also] worked with ibble on the neatest way to get tips, tricks and hacks from over 50 creatives that visited during the tri-state tour,” DeSola and Just noted. “Our goal is to have guests have a nice time while doing brand discovery. We also want them to know our goal is not to just talk about the brands, but hear what the creatives have going on from their projects to their work we want to share with everyone.”

The Caravan team thinks this kind of authenticity is key to creating a successful influencer event and brand experience right now. “Be authentic with creating the experience you want creatives to be a part of. Find cool brands to curate for guests to discover by creating an atmosphere, a story."

“We don’t want to see people just holding up a product,” said the team on what makes a successful influencer and brand partnership. “We want it to be more about that particular creative and how the brand aligns with their lifestyle, current projects they’re working on or organizations they are supporting.'“We don’t want to see people just holding up a product,” said the team on what makes a successful influencer and brand partnership. “We want it to be more about that particular creative and how the brand aligns with their lifestyle, current projects they’re working on or organizations they are supporting."Photo: Courtesy of CaravanThey continued, “Tell the creatives’ stories—we don’t want to see people just holding up a product. We want it to be more about that particular creative and how the brand aligns with their lifestyle, current projects they’re working on or organizations they are supporting. … They want things that are fun and light and not demanding—they want to be able to be part of a community.”

And most importantly? Create an experience. “We always thought the future is experiential, and that’s why we tweaked our model for more points of content creation. If you are not creating an experience, then why bother?” the duo said. “Conceptualizing the brand’s narrative to fully immerse the creators into the story for discovery and education creates a place that feels inspiring for all parties involved.”

Earlier in the pandemic, Caravan hosted a virtual road trip across the 50 states that involved interviews with over 60 creatives, as well as a virtual variety show featuring 100 creatives over seven months that raised money for nonprofits like No Kid Hungry and The Orchid Foundation

“As we transition into more in-person experiences, we’re naturally shifting into this hybrid model of intimate events that can also be seen by the masses, throughout the U.S. and even across the globe,” they said, noting new partnerships with tech like ibble and e-commerce platforms talkshoplive and Caravan’s dedicated Amazon Marketplace

“We really see this as the future of shopping,” they explained. “We want people to have a glimpse into what we call our 'disco on wheels,' and share the brands we have on board. The best way we see doing this are these new innovative concepts with retail sales in social selling.”

Based on the success of the August tour, DeSola and Just plan to launch a cross-country version in October, starting in Philadelphia, stopping in Nashville and ending up in Los Angeles. “Our goal is to push boundaries and constantly innovate and surround ourselves with projects that make you smile," they said.

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