21 January 2020 From Courier Issue 33 (Feb/Mar 2020)

The fine art of bartering in business

How The Rolling Van Creative built a business on the road (with the help of bartering).


Bit by the travel bug, and in possession of a camper van they’d designed and built as part of a design course, Montreal friends Aaron Macrae and Matt Chick hit the road – where a business quickly emerged.

While roaming in the van, the pair were soon hit with the usual problem. ‘We found ourselves in Alaska and we really wanted to get out on the water, but it was so expensive’, says Chick. So, using the cameras the pair had, they offered to make videos and take photos for adventure tour companies in exchange for tickets. As their work improved, they realised they couldn’t afford to continue working for free. The Rolling Van Creative was founded – a creative company dealing in photography, videography and branding.

Using Instagram to showcase their work, and editing nomadically in internet cafes or Airbnbs exchanged for photography, the business ‘spiralled’, says Chick. ‘We hit up the tours in Alaska, then Yucon and then managed to sell our services to a hotel in California. Then we had that on our portfolio and could use it as leverage [with other hotels].’ Able to work with the more cash-flush hospitality industry has given Rolling Van Creative the financial freedom to continue their travels. As Chick says: ‘We decide where we want to travel to, then get pitching.’

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