Van Builder Stories: Yugen Vans

three people smiling behind two vans

Van Builder Stories: Yugen Vans

Buy or Sell Campers

Buy or Sell Campers

16 January 2023

We’re putting pedal to the metal on a one-way mission to ignite wanderlust and connect you with your ultimate roving home. Subscribe to get a weekly dose of vanlife inspo and expert hacks straight to your inbox.

📍 Oceanside, California, USA
📷 @yugen_vans/
Building vans since: 2018

Escape the Ordinary & Discover Your Yugen

What began with a road trip quickly became a father-daughter project and a full-scale family business for the team behind Yugen Vans. And what’s the meaning behind the name? “Yugen? It’s a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe that triggers a deep emotional response” explains Lauren Ritchie – the instigator of this family’s foray into vanlife. Since the team started building custom van conversions – four years ago – they have been on a mission to create vans that are designed as if they are beautiful pieces of art. Stunning woodwork, top-spec systems, and super-stylish finishes are their signature style. From the OG van – a Ford Transit – through to their latest Mercedes Sprinter build, their dedication to delivering yugen has never faltered.

So Lauren, from Yugen Vans, tell us where it all began...

From the very beginning, our business started from genuine passion and a commitment to family. The story goes – For years, I fantasized while working my corporate 9-5 about a dream of buying, converting, and living out “van life”. I took Paid Time Off (PTO) and went to Europe with my boyfriend and another couple. The 4 of us lived in a van for 3 weeks while driving down the coast of France, Spain, and Portugal. It was 2 weeks of serendipitous adventure and a feeling of freedom. It was LIVING; the kind of living you know you would be proud of when your time in this life comes to a close.

I came home from that trip with some courage and quickly found a used 2019 Ford Transit. After signing the sales contract and being handed the keys, I hopped in my new adventure mobile and called the best general contractor I know… my dad! I explained to him that we were about to have A LOT of quality time together because I just purchased a “project”.

Over the next year, we began slowly converting the van together; creating memories I would always cherish and not yet realizing we were creating so much more. Mid-conversion, I blew out my knee and had surgery which also put a damper on our van conversion work. My dad, being the selfless person he is, brought the van to his house and worked on it after work every night and every weekend until it was done! WE COULD NOT BELIEVE HOW BEAUTIFUL IT TURNED OUT. His custom woodwork was better than most vans we saw being sold.

My boyfriend, Steven, joked about how we should sell it. I couldn’t imagine selling my new baby! We decided that we would let destiny do her work and we put the van up for sale for what we thought was a silly price. 3 days later, the van title was signed over to its new owner (who flew in from UT!) and I was holding a $100k check. OUR VAN BUSINESS WAS BORN.

We're gripped! How did you go from selling one van to where you are today?

My mom is the queen of being fearless! Her relentless “let’s just do it and see what happens” / “everything always works out just fine” perspective gave my parents the courage to shut down their old business and they built out a tiny HQ van warehouse in their garage. Fast-forward to today and we’re all involved! I’ve continued to work my corporate America job to keep financing our new little business while running operations and sales (but see a bright light at the end of this tunnel), my brother comes to help on his day off every Sunday – he’s learning all my dad’s skills, and my fiance and sister write the blogs and take the photos.


My passion for adventure and freedom brought us to vans; my dad’s skilled woodworking and dedication to detail create the most beautiful vans; and our family’s commitment to helping one another ALWAYS has brought us to where we are today. We believe authenticity is the most important factor in our success.

What's your professional background?

Rod, co-owner (and dad!), is a licensed General Contractor, who built homes and we always joke that the “vans are to code”. As for me, Lauren (co-owner), I’m an executive with skills in distribution, finance, and operations. My fiance also owns a company called PARKIT which is responsible for the ‘wildly functional’ outdoor cooler-chair combos. Our whole family just loves the outdoors!

What’s unique about Yugen Vans?

Our van conversions look like a custom homes, there is nothing “cookie cutter” about them.

What inspires your builds?

We’re inspired by a range of things during the build process. The needs of our customers inspire the layouts, the industry inspires our systems (only the best!), and design trends inspire the interiors.

Read this next


Register to receive our newsletter, bringing you exclusive offers and the latest news.

Sell your Van in 7 days

Built by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, Buy or Sell Campers is the ultimate place to browse hundreds of camper vans for sale nationwide. Drill down into van-specific features that make all the difference in finding your perfect camper van. 

Selling your camper van? We can help with that too. Instantly gain exposure to thousands of van buyers across the Country!

Why Buy or Sell Campers?

With over 200k followers, tapping into our social media guarantees mass exposure for your rig.