September 21, 2022
Lillie Mysel and Nathalie Canate
We’re excited to announce the $10,000 August Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Lillie Mysel and Nathalie Canate, Co-Founders of Moving Oasis. They are the August qualifier for the 2022 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).
Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Lillie and Nathalie for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.
Marcia: Hi, everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our Amber Grant winner for August, 2022. Today, we’re speaking with Lillie Mysel, Co-Founder and COO of Moving Oasis, and Nathalie Canate who’s Co-Founder and CEO.
I’m Marcia Layton Turner, one of several WomensNet Advisory Board members. So Lillie and Nathalie, thank you so much for making time to chat today about your big news and your company.
Lillie: Absolutely. Thank you for having us.
Nathalie: Yes. Thank you so much. This is amazing.
Marcia: So, tell me about moving Oasis. I’m sure everybody who’s watching this is wondering like what they might have a sense of what the company is, but, but just tell us a little bit about what you do.
Lillie: Definitely. Moving Oasis is a van conversion and a van rental company. We’re based in West Palm Beach, Florida. We build vans into tiny homes and mobile businesses on wheels. So, if you think of like an Amazon commercial van that drops off packages at your house… those vans are what we build into the tiny homes or businesses.
They’re absolutely beautiful, in my opinion. We have a very comfortable bed, beautiful granite countertops, a deep sink, a seating area, a two burner stove…so it’s really like a house, it’s just tinier. But [it has] all of the basic necessities that you need to live a great life.
Nathalie: It also includes running water. 25 gallons of water would allow you to shower every day, if you would like… and then it also includes running electricity so that there’s solar panels up top and the car charges the battery while you’re running. It also has the option for hookup. So you can just charge the battery when you’re at your house or at a campsite, just like a Tesla would,
Lillie: It’s very similar to an RV, but with a lot less maintenance. You’re able to drive so many more places because you’re not driving this giant house. RVs are just so big and massive. And they’re loud because of the generator. So the van is amazing because it’s totally off grid. So when you’re out in nature, you’re really hearing nature, not the generator.
Marcia: And so who’s your typical customer for this?
Nathalie: We’re targeting students and freelancers who are looking to work and travel. But there’s also kind of another need of housing in general, which we think could be a good stepping stone. Because rent is so burdening these days, this can be like a one to two year plan to save money, travel for a little bit and then get the down payment that you need to actually afford your house.
So anyone, really, who’s looking to travel for a little bit.
Lillie: It’s also great for people in their mid thirties and forties who just want to have a vacation for the summer. Like lot of teachers or travel nurses… people who just retired. RVs are really expensive. So to not put all of that commitment into an RV, it really can be for anyone who just doesn’t need to be full-time either. It can just be for vacation too.
Marcia: But they need housing. I mean it’s housing on wheels, really.
Lillie: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that’s our big passion really is housing. Yeah. Yeah.
Marcia: Awesome. So what do you think has been the secret to your success thus far?
Nathalie: I think us as a couple and just our backgrounds in general. I bring the technical expertise — my background’s in architecture. I have my Masters and Bachelors. And Lily’s background is in social work. So we’re very passionate about housing and creating it to be affordable for everyone.
Lillie: We really highlight each other’s strengths. So there’s not a lot of competition or jealousy or envy. It’s like, I know Natalie’s strengths are not mine. And that brings a beautiful vision. That can become a reality for us because she’s mainly the builder and I’m doing all of the stuff behind the scenes. So with that makes our business a business. We couldn’t do this without each other.
Marcia: Complimentary skill sets are so valuable. So, tell me about the future plans for the business. Maybe tell us where you are now and where you might be in five years.
Nathalie: So currently. Our home is our business. But we really hope to open up a van life resort where we have like a community center that embodies the sustainable, tiny living, for everyone to gather around. And then the vans that no longer are drivable —you’ve already used up all the mileage — those would then be “the cabins.”
There would also be a maintenance area, for people who are in van life to maintenance their van as well as stay in the resort.
Lillie: Yeah. A big part of when you are living in a van, and a breakdown happens…you then can’t stay in your van, you have to go to a hotel. And a hotel can be really expensive. If it’s last minute, you may not even be able to get one. So we hope to provide a sanctuary place for them to say in the cabin that’s very, very affordable, so that we can fix their van and it can be not as stressful.
Marcia: I see the vision. That’s cool!
Nathalie and Lillie: We really hope to also have a very inclusive employment, which is another passion of ours. Very diverse, inclusive staff. And then way, way down, we hope to bring some part of affordable housing, even bigger, but that’s complicated.
Marcia: Are you two doing all of the work now on the van conversions? Like you personally, or do you have subcontractors?
Nathalie: I mainly do all the building.
Lillie: So our goal is definitely to get some of those contractors and this grant is amazing for that.
Marcia: Now that you’ve won the $10,000 Amber Grant, what are some short term plans for? How are you gonna use that money to grow the company?
Lillie: We really hope to put this money towards marketing. Right now I am in school and I have a full time job. And so the last year the marketing has been just on me… and that part really isn’t necessarily my background. Marketing is a really important part of running a business. So we hope to put some of the money towards marketing and then the other part into tools as well as hopefully hiring some kind of subcontractors. But the tools is definitely a part of a priority.
Nathalie: So currently we have donated tools from friends and family as well as some borrowed tools. So it would really help on the time expedience and not stepping on our friends toes, knowing that they might need the tools. So it’s really gonna help in that regard.
Marcia: Terrific. What is some advice that you might give an aspiring female entrepreneur, who’s where you were a while ago when you were just getting started?
Lillie: I think a big part of it is being courageous. You really have to step out of your comfort zone and just try it. You don’t want to look back and think, ‘should I have done that?’ It’s really important to go forward and try it. A support system has the best people to help push you forward… and to really attach yourself to that courage, because without support, you really can’t do anything.
We have amazing people behind us, supporting us every day, who are always brainstorming with us. Yes, you just see us. And it is our name on the business, but we have great people who are supporting us every single day, who we can call all the time and they really do help us a lot. So asking for help… because if you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to get it.
Nathalie: I would advise that the timing is now. If you have something and you wanna do it, just go for it. You’re gonna be failing along the way. And those are the days that you learn the most. You’re not too young; you’re not too old. That was a big hesitation for us, but we just went for it and here we are.
Lillie: There are some days where you’re going to feel like you’re doing absolutely nothing. And then there are some days where you’re working like 14 hours that day… and that’s okay. Because you’re a business owner, not every day is going to look the same. And if you can be okay with that, I think you’ll really thrive.
Marcia: That’s a really good point. No day is the same and that’s okay. And enjoy the quiet days.
Nathalie: Exactly. Don’t take them for granted.
Marcia: Thank you both so much for taking a few minutes to share your story and talk about your business. I know the WomensNet community is just going to be fascinated by this, really. And congratulations again on being our August Amber Grant winner.
Nathalie and Lillie: Thank you!