Some Airstreams are rolling histories, of long journeys, of decades of care, of family connection. But some Airstreams go on journeys with their owners that are as much about metaphors as miles. Kim Hayes bought her ’65 Safari in 2004, but since she was driving a Honda Civic at the time, the 23-foot trailer had to spend most of its days in storage. At the first storage facility, it suffered roof damage (probably from an industrial crane) without anyone claiming responsibility.
When it was moved to another storage facility, a 2010 tornado there threw a boat against the trailer’s backside, bashing some big bruises into its aluminum shell. Hayes began a three-year journey to get the body fixed. From the first days of ownership, Hayes had a vision to open a shop in the trailer to retail her artworks, but that vision had to take the long view. With the help of P&S trailers for the body, and SPACE Architecture and Design for the interior, by 2015, the Safari was nearly ready.
“I always wanted a little space to call my own, and a little shop,” says Hayes. Hayes dubbed the trailer the “Kabine,” the German word for “hut” or “cabin,” referencing her German ancestry. “But the cabinetry is inspired by Japan, where my grandmother and her family lived when she was a child. And I had been collecting things for years and had worked at a modern furnishing store, where I purchased modern design lighting and other accessories that I wanted incorporated into the design,” she says.
Since this August, Hayes (and her dog, Americone Dream, the second half of her “Two Girls and a Trailer” pairing) have been running a pop-up shop from the trailer at various sites around St. Louis. Hayes makes between 50% to 70% of the fabric, paper and textile goods sold out of the shop, including photographic postcards inspired from her travels. “Postcards and travel go together and I want to inspire and assist in the tradition continuing,” she says. “I also love found objects and giving them new lives. Currently I am working on some pillows and old horseshoes. I am also spending time in a letterpress studio working with type and making printing plates out of my photographs.”
Hayes works with other artists she knows, and invites them to collaborate on works to show in the Kabine. The trailer is also available as a mobile pop-up shop rental. The Kabine’s evolution was an extended process, and Hayes has her momentum going. “This has been a dream for so long I am constantly thinking ahead, but at the same time taking it step by step,” says Hayes. “I am proud that the Kabine is staying focused and true to our mission of providing a thoughtful collection of small goods to outfit and inspire you for travel.”
The road might not be that long, but the passage can take years. “I wish this part of the journey didn’t take 12 years, but what I went through only brings more confidence in the vision for the Kabine, and the joys are more rewarding,” says Hayes. “Most recently when I was unhitching someone said, ‘You do this all by yourself?” I said, ‘A girl gotta do what a girl gotta do.’”
You go, girl.
See what the Kabine is up to at thekabine.com.
Author Tom Bentley’s office is a ’66 Globetrotter, from which he writes all kind of things, from button-down business pieces to fanciful fiction. His newest book is Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See, available on Amazon.