Lindsey Maxwell ’14 embarks on the ultimate adventure


Lindsey Maxwell ’14 started pickup truck conversion company Featherbuilt in 2020 and hasn’t looked back since. She hopes to inspire others to take the leap into entrepreneurship and experience new adventures.

The rise of COVID-19 in early 2020 brought a lot – masks, social distancing and hours and hours of binge-watching TV, but one that had the potential to stick around longer than others was quarantine projects.

Lots of people started them, very few finished them, and even fewer went on to do a good job. Lindsey Maxwell ’14 falls into the latter category after turning her quarantine project into a full-fledged business.

Maxwell and his partner launched made of feathers down their driveway in Denver, Colorado in 2020. The two-person team specializes in improving the travel experience for adventurers across America, renovating vans into custom living spaces, and providing product customers to do it themselves. At a time when road travel was exploding, Maxwell jumped at the chance to grow up in an industry she already felt at home in.

After graduating in 2014, Maxwell moved to Charlotte to teach preschool, a very different role from what she does now. A year and a half later, Maxwell left her life in the United States behind and moved to Italy to be an au pair, an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. It was at this stage in her life that she truly fell in love with travel, and the passion that would soon fuel Featherbuilt began to grow.

“While living and working in Italy my job was about 75% travel and I completely fell in love with incorporating travel into a regular part of my life,” Maxwell said. “In 2018, as I was finishing my stay in Italy, I came across the blog of a woman who had turned a van into a small house and was traveling around the country and living off it. I knew it was something thing I had to do.

Upon returning to the United States, Maxwell purchased a Sprinter pickup truck and began his conversion career with the help of his father. Little did she know this van was going to change her life forever when she met her partner and Featherbuilt co-owner after a few months on the road in her new home on wheels. Early on in starting his own van conversion business, it was a perfect match just in time for COVID-19 to hit and quarantine projects to take over. For Maxwell and her partner, their quarantine project was on a larger scale than most as she bought a second van and they joined forces to make it a home.

“There was absolutely no hesitation in starting this business because there was virtually no other choice at the time,” Maxwell explained. “My partner, Patrick, had officially quit his job in 2019 to start Featherbuilt, and I had worked seasonally while traveling in the van, so we had nothing to lose. Jumpstarting Featherbuilt was perfect during COVID as we could still work together in isolation and try to make some money while staying safe.

Since that first project together, Featherbuilt has taken many forms, from remodeling for Instagram-famous wolfdog Loki, to customizing his own vans, to developing a conversion system that could be sold as a “Do-It-Yourself”. ” case. But no matter what stage Featherbuilt is in, one thing has always been important to them: durability.

“Once you’ve seen a sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park or the changing seasons in Yosemite, you want to protect it at all costs,” Maxwell explained. “As an integral part of the manufacturing business, we see firsthand how much packaging waste comes out of the world (and eventually our landfills) every day and work to reduce that.”

While very proud of their commitment to building sustainably, Maxwell is most proud of how they made something out of nothing. With no business or construction background, she has become a very successful entrepreneur who is a pro with power tools. Although she acquired most of these skills after graduation, she credits much of her success in life to her experience with Elon.

“People complain about the ‘Elon bubble’ but I actually think it was a really big factor in preparing me for life after graduation,” Maxwell said. “I felt a stronger sense of community than many of my friends who attended other universities and sought to continue to build strong connections in my post-grad communities. I think that led to a lot of my success and happiness.

Maxwell also credits Elon’s study abroad programs with sparking her love of travel and showing her the many ways she could live. As a loyal member of Sweet Signatures, she learned how to organize events, giving her both the experience and the courage to become an entrepreneur. She encourages all of Elon’s students to enjoy the time they have at Elon and make the most of it.

“Enjoy the things Elon has to offer you,” Maxwell said. “I thought I was too busy at college to pursue other hobbies or more meaningful relationships and it was the least busy I’ve been in my life since. These years are a gift – don’t waste it.

Elon was a place of community and peer interaction for Maxwell, and she truly believes that this culture is what has inspired so many alumni, including herself, to follow their passion and achieve success.

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

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