After bringing new life to a vintage classic, the owner of a local natural skin care product line is ready to hit the road with her newly refurbished beauty bar on wheels.
When she spotted the 1974 Avion vintage travel trailer on Facebook Marketplace, Olivia Ortiz knew it was perfect.
“I was like, what is this gem?” she remembers thinking. “I was looking for something like this, this shape, because it’s noticeable. It really catches your attention. It was such a good deal. The bones were really good. There wasn’t anything structurally wrong with it.”
It was July 2019. Ortiz figured it would take six to eight months to refurbish the 31-foot trailer into her “Shoogie Shack”—a mobile spa in which clients could experience her handcrafted Shoogie Company natural skin care products and receive relaxing treatments from esthetician/massage therapist Rachel Wilkerson. Ortiz’s brother towed the trailer to an RV park in her neighborhood, where she could get to work. But, like most construction projects, it would take twice as much money, time and effort to finish. And there were a few unpleasant surprises along the way.
“It was so gross,” Ortiz admits. She discovered rotted wood, undoubtedly from years of water leaking in around the ceiling vents. There was evidence of mice throughout, including “a family of little mice that had made a home in the oven and eaten everything.”
Then there was the potentially hazardous materials scare.
“I wonder if this is asbestos?” Ortiz muses in a video her friend took while she was tearing out the coverings over the wheel wells.
“I had to stop because I wasn’t sure if it was or not,” she recalls. “I had to call a specialist out to test and I had to wait for like two weeks to get the results back—no asbestos.”
Although she was willing to do the hard work herself, Ortiz quickly figured out she would need some expert help. Because local RV dealers don’t work on 47-year-old trailers, she found 82-year-old Mr. Nelson, retired from a local RV shop, to rewire the electricity. Finally, she convinced her two brothers, who both work in the construction industry, to let her hire them for their expertise. Together they learned that installation on the curved surfaces of the “silver bullet” isn’t quite like anything residential construction had prepared them for. In the end, all that remained of the original interior was the surprisingly large, uniquely curved bathtub.
“We took it down to the beams. It was a shell,” Ortiz says. But that allowed her to select just the right materials to create the natural, relaxing interior she envisioned, including the simulated white brick walls, her homage to Ocala’s nickname of “Brick City,” as well as lots of wood.
“I wanted to feature natural wood,” she explains. “Wood is living and it breathes. It absorbs light, it absorbs smells and it smells good when it heats up. It’s beautiful.”
Ortiz repurposed the bottom section of a vintage hutch she found at a resale shop to make the trailer’s kitchen counter and added a custom magnolia wood top she crafted with her brother’s help. The beams are cedar, the framing and custom-built, barn-style bathroom door are pine, and oak and aspen are incorporated in the trim. They used magnolia scraps from the countertop, together with a strip of walnut, to create a one-of-a-kind cutting board. Finishing the wood with tung oil allowed it to dry to a naturally glossy, nontoxic finish.
Once the Shoogie Mobile Spa was finished, complete with comfortable day beds, a sofa, and plenty of cozy accessories, Ortiz couldn’t wait to hit the road. Clients can book the mobile beauty bar for bridal showers, weddings, a girls’ day in or any private event. She also will be offering group scent making classes and plans to partner with a local RV rental company to create unique outdoor living experiences.
“I’m so excited,” Ortiz enthuses. “It’s amazing!”