Katri Livonen-Gray, and Brett Gray are co-owners of Volkswagen camper van conversion specialists, Chilli Jam Vans, with Katri taking the wheel as TPS Insider’s latest Volkswagen Group Icon contributor.
Given the nature of Katri business it's no surprise her chosen icon is the Volkswagen camper van, in particular the California model. We've found out more about the Chilli Jam Vans business and why their T5 and T6 van conversions leave their customers California dreaming!
The Chilli Jam Van business was born out a lifelong dream by co-owner Brett Gray to build and own a camper van. Starting in his dad’s garage he soon achieved his aim.
The next step for Brett and Katri was to convert their passion for T5 and T6s into a lifestyle business, using their creativity, eye for detail and technical knowledge to transform other people’s camper van dreams into reality.
So in 2013, they launched Chilli Van Jams, a T5 and T6 bespoke van conversion specialists offering both part and full van conversions on new and used VW vehicles suited to individual customer budgets and styling requirements.
From small beginnings working on one bespoke van project at a time, Chilli Jam Vans has developed within the past six years into a well-respected and renowned conversion specialist business. Depending on whether a customer wants an occasional day van, a weekender vehicle, or a more bespoke build, Brett and the team can meet the spec and produce the van of their customers’ dreams. This is achieved through a full range of conversion services that includes roofs, windows, interiors, colour coding, seating and upholstery, tinting, engine remapping and vehicle wrapping. It’s a labour of love for both the business and the customer and why Katri, Brett and the team see the relationship they have with their customers going beyond just a transactional exchange.
Katri said: “Our customers are very like-minded, always seeking new experiences and adventures. We share that outlook with them and of course their passion for camper vans, a vehicle that symbolises the spirit of adventure.
“It’s more than just a vehicle, it represents a lifestyle, a mindset that is about doing what you want, when you want and without restriction; it’s like freedom on wheels.
“So whether it’s having a picnic, a swim in a lake or just enjoying the open road, our customers know that the T5 and T6 is the perfect vehicle to realise their ambitions. By carrying out the conversions we play an important part in helping our customers achieve those dreams.”
The shared passion for Volkswagen camper vans has helped to develop a strong sense of community among Chilli Jam Van’s loyal customer base. This is demonstrated in the regular sharing of photos and experiences from customer adventures and attending events organised by the Katri, Brett and the Chilli Jam Van's team. Katri said: “We have a loyal customer base and through time a lot of them have become good friends. They send us photos and videos of their adventures and experiences and we share them on our social channels and website.
"Back in 2017 we hosted the first of our annual Chilli Jam Van's jam events, a get together for old and new customer alike. It was very successful and we fundraised for the Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) through various activities across the weekend.
“We repeated the event last year, had lots of people attend and raised even more money for the charity. Given how popular the jams have become, the plan now is to put them on each year. It’s a good example of the sense of community we have developed with our customers and it’s great to get together with everyone at each event.”
For more information on Chilli Jam Vans, visit https://chillijamvans.co.uk/