Two times three makes four - or: Be Pippi, not Annika!
This quote clearly applies to Svenja, who we are meeting up with today for a phone call. The friendly and open-minded Rhinelander is one of our first Kildwick customers and someone who also first mentioned us on Instagram. Of course that type of commitment does not go unnoticed so we’d like to know how satisfied she is with the Kildwick dry separating toilet she has installed in her self-renovated motorhome.
If you take a look at Swenja's Instagram, you immediately notice that this woman must be an all-rounder and our comparison to Pippi Longstocking is not that far-fetched. She describes herself as crazy and fearless - which we can absolutely confirm. Everything began two years ago with the purchase of a 1999 Mercedes Benz LMC Liberty. And it’s absolutely incredible what she has turned this dusty little baby into!
Not everyone has the same taste when it comes to these things but the interior design and especially the bathroom look like they were taken from a modern living magazine. It makes you want to move right in and get on the road. It’s really incredible that she built everything herself. "The people in my circle of friends have looked at me with a bit of skepticism and lovingly declared me to be crazy," she says as she bursts into laughter. But she didn’t let that stop her. True to Pippi’s motto (the red-haired, pigtailed whirlwind): I've never tried that before, so I'm completely sure I can do it.
Swenja makes her money in marketing, lives with her partner and has both feet on the ground when it comes to living life. In her free time, she makes furniture for her house or the garden investing lots of heart and soul. Her mutt Lala has been her faithful companion for the past nine years – accompanying her during her crazy (but creative) building projects as well as on her trips.
Lala, a former street dog from Spain, was adopted by Svenja. Before Lala, she had a foster dog named Nana whose owner then unfortunately moved away. "I can’t do it without a dog!" Svenja noted, who came across the delightful, coffee table-high dog lady while browsing the website of an animal welfare association. "It was the second picture I looked at, but it was love at first sight," she says, sounding a little mischievous. The names of her happy four-legged friends remind us of a catchy tune: Live is Life - Lala Nana La …
It only took Swenja a month and a half to renovate the motorhome - except for the bathroom, where she actually had to show some respect for her own limitations and push the project off a while. "Before disassembling the whole box, the cables and the complete plastic paneling, I would have rather gone into hiding," she says as she laughs again into the phone: "But the plastic was soft and brittle. So: ‘you do what you gotta do’ as the Rhinelander says.”
Our all-rounder actually took care of the bathroom remodeling on her own – with a little helpful advice from (among others) a friendly boat builder (who not only builds great Greenboats made from natural or recycled raw materials, but is currently also sinking his knowledge into the development of sustainable motorhomes). She tells us: "During the construction phase I made lots of funny phone calls due to my crazy ideas. Mostly with suppliers who never had problems like mine cross their desks. Who laminates their own shower tub out of wood or connects a 220V lamp to a 12V power supply?". The upgrades not only cost her a lot of sweat and tears, but also led to a few scratches and lots of bruises. "My mother realized early on that I wouldn’t become a princess," she says. This time we laugh right along with her.
We want to know from Swenja why she threw out the motorhome’s existing chemical toilet and opted for the Kildwick modular system instead. "The topic of sustainability is dear to my heart and when we're on the road, we like to be self-sufficient," she says. "Even if you use bio-degradable additives in the chemical toilet, you always have an odor problem. And emptying the toilet is never pleasant or sustainable. That's why I was looking for an alternative.” Through internet research, she quickly became aware of dry separating toilets. At a caravan fair, she took a closer look at the systems offered by various manufacturers. "With some of them I just didn’t like the color or shape of the dividing inserts," she continues. "Models by other manufacturers were just too bulky. I didn’t want to use a crank-type unit and many dry toilets are simply incredibly expensive. With Kildwick, I like the simplicity of the products and the simple handling during disposal." After several months of use, Swenja is completely sure she made the right decision and has infected other camper friends with her enthusiasm.
Swenja’s passion for camping comes from her childhood: "My two aunts had a camper and I was often allowed to tag along over the holidays. That was the greatest thing for me. We were just allowed to be kids! Being out in nature is still the best for me."
For a long time she didn’t do any camping. That’s until she and her family were invited for a visit by friends in France and the family decided that the trip should be done with a hired mobile home. Since then, she never gave up on the idea of having her own camper. Two years ago, it was finally time and "Gretchen", as she christened her favorite friend, entered her life. Gretchen and Svenja even share the same birthday. If that’s not a sign of fate then what is?
Nowadays Swenja, her husband, Lala and Gretchen are all inseparable. They’ve already undertaken lots of adventures together and traveled through countless countries: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland - just to name a few. For the coming year they are planning a round trip through the Baltic region. But actually Gretchen takes the lead in planning the route: Gretchen goes where Gretchen wants to go. Even the lively Swenja steps aside for Gretchen.
We wish this delightful troop all the best, thank you for an unforgettable conversation and let’s wrap things up with a quote by Astrid Lindgren:
"Freedom means that you do not necessarily have to do everything like other people."
Or as Svenja would say:
"Always be yourself! Unless you can be Pippi Longstocking. Then be Pippi Longstocking."
We are super impressed by this woman’s energy. If you want to know more about what she's turned Gretchen into, check out her Instagram.