(J) Neither Sam or I are marketing experts, or really have a whole lot of experience with theming or graphic design, but we did have a very good idea when starting this project of what we wanted to achieve with the look and style of our truck, and all its associated platforms.
It’s hard, looking back, to remember exactly where a lot of our ideas came from, but I think the first, and most
enduring concept of what we’re trying to achieve is simple: Pasta. Before we had decided anything else about the truck, we knew we wanted to make pasta, and we knew we wanted to make it well. Pasta had been a band-aid for us, a shield that protected us from the uncertainty and discomfort of the Canadian residency process, a distraction and something positive in a time when it was hard to remain optimistic about the future. Pasta to me is also reminiscent of family meals, weekends, hangovers, snuggling up inside on a cold winter day, cooking a meal for my first boyfriend. Its familiar, comfortable, unchallenging.
(S) Pasta might not seem like a brand but, as a food truck, the food you serve can tell people so much about your business before they even see your truck; click on your website; or read your blog. People have connotations attached to every type of food, whether they know it or not. Different dishes or cuisines stir up different emotions. Pasta, for some, may bring up memories of their family, or the budget first meals they learnt to cook after leaving home, or date nights with a partner many years ago. One thing that it stirs in me (and, I hope, in others) is a feeling of warmth and safety. Pasta isn’t considered cutting edge or risqué to people, like some cuisines may be. I think the mistake a lot of people make is thinking that pasta cannot be anything other than simple and safe, I, on the other hand, fell in love with its hidden complexity. I lost myself to learning all I could about the different shapes, doughs and traditional production methods, whilst hiding from the fact that I was scared of losing the country I had grown to love over the 5 years that I had called Canada home.
(J) Once we’d decided on pasta we quickly decided on a school bus. In all honesty I’m not sure there was any deep meaning behind this choice other than school buses are cool and very iconic. We wanted to be memorable. Its possible the idea was influenced by a cute school-bus-cum-camper-van we’d seen around town at this time, or it may have been a more tactical decision due to the affordability of old school busses. Either way, it fit nicely into the nostalgia theme that pasta had bought to the table. I assume most North Americans have many happy childhood memories of times spent in school busses (although as a Brit they’re almost exotic; tied in my mind to American movies and TV shows which showed me a world quite removed from my own.) We even thought of naming our truck something school bus related, although we liked the idea of a name in Italian. unfortunately “lo scuolabus” (the school bus) didn’t have quite the right ring to it, although we tried a number of school themed translations before deciding on Amo la Vita.
(S) I had always liked the Motto “live life, love life” and after a vacation to Costa Rica, a country famous for its own motto- Pura Vida (pure life), we decided we wanted something similarly simple. After trying a few things in an online translator, Amo La Vita was born. It used simple enough Italian words that non Italian speakers could figure out the meaning and was a Motto that would remind us of what we were striving to achieve. Our aim is to end each day thinking “I love life”. It is this aim that pushes me to follow my dreams and build a food truck that I can be proud of, and love working in.
(J) Before the idea of a food truck, Sam had been obsessed with the idea of a tiny house, even building a scale model of his ideal home and following blogs and youtube channels dedicated to the movement. He had found a lot of examples online of how reclaimed pallet wood could be used to make an attractive, rustic exterior, and loved the idea of incorporating this into the food truck. Before we’d even bought the bus he had got to work building a menu board from some old pallets he’d found dumped next to the train tracks in Whistler. Again, we felt this worked well as part of a nostalgic old world feel, and fit in well with rustic Italian food as well as being environmentally conscious and budget friendly.
(S) I really wanted our food truck to be both fun and casual but also gourmet and professional. I originally thought that rustic pallet wood would be too rough for a gourmet food truck and would make us look amateur. When I was designing that first menu board I bought 4 different wood stains to test on the sanded down wood. What I then discovered was that using all of the stains on different types of wood could give a rustic but polished look to the rough wood. Once we had the stained wood, chalk board and yellow bus we realized that these were the elements we would use to create a instantly recognizable “Amo La Vita” brand.
Using reclaimed wood was also a no brainer for our food truck. The fact that we could create a one of a kind wood trim from a product that was at the end of its expected life span, and was destined for the waste stream fit our ethos perfectly. The less waste I can create the better for my life and this project.
(J) We were lucky to have a number of friends who worked in the fields of design and graphics, and engaged them in helping us pretty early in the project. Kate and Pippa had started their own, London Based, Graphic design collective called “Me and You Create” but were working on projects from opposite sides of the world. We had a meeting with Kate, who was living in Whistler at the time, and explained we wanted some logos and graphic options, for use on our truck, business cards, website etc. Kate got to work, and came back with 3 different themes for us, even showing us some mockups of websites and business cards using her logo ideas.
(S) Working with a professional graphic designer is an amazing process. After one meeting to discus ideas of what Amo La Vita meant to us, Kate was able to completely encapsulate the feeling we wanted to portray through her designs. I had tried to create a logo myself, but with no training and very little drawing skills it always came out looking like a 4 year old had drawn it. Whilst we liked all of Kate’s original ideas, one immediately jumped out at us. It was exactly what we were looking for, and only needed some small tweaks to become the logo we were looking for. We wanted to have a logo that was colourful, immediately recognizable, simple and showed a memorable feature of our venture: The bus!
(J) Once we had our logo designed, we decided we could start working on our website and general online presence. We had set up Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts during the early planning stages, and we now started using these more; posting frequent updates about the build and menu ideas. Again, we were lucky to have a good friend, Phil, who was working as a web designer. He helped us to secure the domain name that we wanted, and showed us some website options that we could use as a template for our own.
(S) Phil and I looked through numerous wordpress template sites, trying to find one that would offer an appropriate blueprint to build upon. The “Rosa” theme caught our eye the first time we stumbled upon it. I loved the way it operated, and the smooth transitions that occurred during scrolling. The template was not perfect though, it was missing crucial features and lacking pages that we needed on our site. Phil was able to work his coding magic, and succeeded in adapting the existing template to fit our needs. The result was a beautiful and easy to update website.
(J) Once we knew vaguely what our website would look like, we needed to provide photos and content for all of the pages. Sam had a great idea of creating a pallet wood backdrop, which could be used to photograph plates of food, raw ingredients and other relevant images. We would use these photos to give website visitors a good first impression of what our business was all about. I have never been particularly practical, or good with tools, but I decided I wanted to take on this project, and use it as a learning experience to improve my construction skills. I was very pleased with the results, and proud that I had managed to create something physical which is now used in a number of our website photographs.
(S) I pride myself on the food photography that I post on our various social media accounts, but when it comes to high quality photos my iPhone isn’t in the same league as a proper SLR. We are lucky enough to have several friends with SLR cameras, and as soon as I put the word out that we needed help with a website photoshoot we had many offers of help. Waide is a fellow chef, and a great amateur photographer. He spent one very long night capturing most of the photos you see on the site. I cannot stress enough how much the creation of this project was a team effort, and would not have been possible without the assistance of a number of friends. We are extremely grateful for their help.
(J) So finally, after months of planning and designing, the website was ready to launch. We’re very proud of the outcome, and think that our online presence does a great job of explaining who we are and what we do.