Jen Woolston’s VW Booth Bus will not only brighten up your Instagram feed, but it will most likely go down in history as the most memorable part of your wedding or special event. This mother of three boys found her calling in creating a retro, yet modern, Volkswagon bus-turned-photo booth (named Poppy!) whose presence has burst onto the New Jersey wedding scene and beyond. NJMOM got the scoop on how Jen’s Pinterest-pinning obsession jump-started her new venture, how sweet Poppy will play a role in supporting local kids’ organizations, and of course, all the charming details you’ll experience if you’re lucky enough to meet up one day. With a house full of energetic boys, Jen also shares their favorite getaways, including Diggerland, Field Station: Dinosaurs, and Historic Longstreet Farm.
Owner of VW Booth Bus & NJMOMpreneur:
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Jen: VW Booth Bus is a one-of-a-kind, custom-crafted vintage Volkswagen bus photo booth. Poppy (that’s her name!) is not just a photo booth. Unlike a traditional photo booth, Poppy’s charm creates an atmosphere of enchanting ambiance, and guests cannot help but smile and laugh when around her. Poppy becomes a living part of the event’s mood and décor. Every aspect of our photo booth was hand-selected with the utmost care and attention. We also provide a top-of-the-line camera system and printer, professional lighting, high-quality and unique custom props, and both printed strips and an online gallery to be enjoyed and cherished long after the event is over.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Jen: My love for weddings has led me to the place I am now. After planning my own wedding in 2011, I became smitten with the process, which eventually turned into a career as a wedding planner and designer. At the time, I had a “maybe one day” dream of owning a Volkswagen bus, and was never able to resist “pinning” an image of a vintage bus when I came across one on Pinterest. I had seen Volkswagen bus photo booths in other parts of the country, and it was a concept I was really excited about. It merges my passions of working in the wedding and event industries, taking photos (never enough pictures if you ask me!), and bringing beauty and joy into people’s lives. Creating a VW bus photo booth brought all my interests and values together in one place.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Jen: After every event, I leave with a euphoric feeling. It is truly a fun gig! We travel throughout New Jersey and beyond, attend exciting events, and meet new, interesting people. But most importantly, we make people happy. There’s nothing better than hearing the laughter spill out of the bus while people are having a great time posing, being silly, and making memories with their friends and family. It’s really awesome to capture those moments in the photo booth while watching them unfold before our eyes. We feel so lucky that we get to create memorable moments for a living. Driving around in the bus is pretty fun, too – everyone smiles and waves at us!
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Jen: I have a background in Marketing and Wedding Planning, both of which are very helpful in running the VW Booth Bus business. I used my expertise to create our logo, our website, and run our social media accounts. I have relationships with wedding planners, photographers, videographers, DJs, venues, calligraphers, rental companies, and more vendors throughout the event planning industry. I understand the importance of each wedding day’s timeline and the impact it makes when we get the bus to its location at the precise moment. I love to work hand-in-hand with photographers, designers, florists, and coordinators to utilize the bus in any way we can to make the event extra special.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Jen: Truthfully, I am really proud that I had the courage to go for it and start VW Booth Bus (with so much support from my husband). Whenever I see images from photographers after the wedding, I have a “pinch me” moment. Sometimes it all feels a little unreal, but like they say, “Dreams don’t work unless you do!” I feel absolutely proud when the emails and reviews come in and clients tell us that the bus was the best part of the wedding for almost every single one of their guests. I am also proud of the rate at which we’re booking up future events for 2018 and even 2019.
I am proud that I am making this dream happen while also being a full-time mom to a five-year-old, three-year-old, and five-month-old.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Jen: In addition to a Marketing and Wedding Planning background, I have a Master’s degree from Monmouth University in Professional Counseling, and originally had plans to become a School Counselor. Also, Poppy is the first “girl” that my husband and I were able to name, since together we have had three boy dogs and now three sons!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year?
Jen: I hope to continue being the best mother, wife, and business owner I can be. Business-wise, I will take the slower winter season to add customization options for the bus in terms of props, backdrops, guest books, and more fun features. Come spring, we will be busy with events throughout New Jersey and beyond.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Jen: We are excited that VW Booth Bus is able to be a part of events that support some amazing organizations. We have an event coming up with the Red Bank YMCA and their Endless Summer Annual Benefit. The YMCA is such an important part of our local community as they provide vulnerable kids and families in our area with access to life-changing programs and services, including affordable swim lessons that keep kids safe in and around the water all year long. We are also passionate about Horizons at Rumson Country Day School, which serves a diverse population and offers a six-week academic, cultural, and recreational enrichment program to nearly 150 low-income students in the Red Bank, New Jersey area.
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Jen: My immediate reaction to this question is: my own mama, of course! I recently read a quote that said, “Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.” This is my mom; she is, and always has been, sunshine in my life and I feel lucky that I have known her since the day I was born. She is an incredibly hard worker and has endless energy, enthusiasm, and optimism. She is on a never-ending pursuit to make life more beautiful, and she absolutely does just that (you should see her garden). I also look to other women in the wedding industry that are carrying the roles of both business owner and mom. This past summer, our bus had the privilege of being a part of a September Sunsets themed styled shoot in Sandy Hook and many of the other vendors involved were rocking both titles. Paige of Gilded Lily Events, Jessa of Love & Light Photographs, Dana of Between Sleep & Awake, and Mary Kate of Mary Kate Moon are all so very talented, innovative, and hardworking – on top of being fantastic, loving mothers. It’s wonderful to them, and other hustling mamas, to look up to for guidance and support.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
Jen: My mom has given me countless words of sage advice over the years, but what stands out to me is the constant, never-wavering confidence she’s had in me. She has always believed in my abilities, and has given me the courage to go for it; I hope I can be that same voice for my kids as they grow.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Jen: “These are the days.” Sometimes this whole “mom thing” is so hard and I feel like I’m barely staying afloat, but this quote is a reminder that despite the sleepless nights, endless laundry, meltdowns, sippy cups that need washing, nonexistent alone time, toys constantly covering the floor – I know better than to wish these days away. In the blink of an eye, these days will be distant memories and this chapter of my life will be gone. I know these are the days I will cherish, so when it’s hard – really hard – I remind myself that these, right here and now, are the days.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Jen: One thing I’ve learned after five-plus years of being a boy mom is that we can’t stay in the house for too long! We love heading out for an adventure together. All summer long, we take the short drive from our house over to the beach in Sea Bright, or head to Long Branch or Asbury Park. We actually love the beach in the late afternoon or early evening, and switch from the playground to the ocean and back again. We also visit parks multiple times a week, and Monmouth County has so many great ones to choose from. One of our favorites is Holmdel Park, where you can visit the animals at Historic Longstreet Farm. Our regular rotation includes Thompson Park, Dorbrook Recreation Area (including the sprayground in the summer!), Victory Park, and Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park. I also love taking my boys on day trips around New Jersey. Some of our favorite places we’ve visited include Storybook Land, Diggerland, Field Station: Dinosaurs, Jersey Shore Pirates, and Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. We also love going to Count Basie Theatre for shows, going on boat rides, and watching soccer games (that my husband is coaching). This past Fall we visited Eastmont Orchards, A. Casola Farms, and Happy Day Farm. During the holidays, we always visit Santa at Dearborn Market in Holmdel. And I am always checking NJMOM.com to find new and exciting things to do with my boys!
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Jen: Oh goodness – I really, really, really love being a mom. Getting to see the world through my children’s eyes is such a gift and a privilege. Everything is more fun and exciting. I barely cared much about holidays before having kids, but now we decorate, we anticipate, and we do activities that revolve around each holiday. It’s just a whole lot of fun doing life with them. When I think about the fact that these three little people each grew in my body, and here they are, thinking these thoughts, doing these things – my heart becomes so full of love for each of them and this family of ours.
My boys are endless sources of love and joy, and I feel so proud and lucky to be their mama!
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Jen: We love Sickles Market, and after we finish our shopping (which usually includes some new plants and a few healthy and delicious Power Packs), we make a trip over to the playground. We visit Dean’s Natural Food Market often for smoothies; my boys love the Rocket Fuel. My husband and I are trying to have a “lunch date” every Friday, and we are enjoying restaurants such as Turning Point, KITCH Organic, The French Market, and Seed to Sprout. For activities, my older son really enjoys karate at Fair Haven Fitness and Karate and we visit Old World Shaving Parlor in Red Bank for excellent haircuts for the boys.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Jen: We live in Shrewsbury, where the amazing Grove shopping center is located. We frequently stop in Starbucks, visit the fountains, and shop in our favorite stores. We are also right next to Red Bank, which has so many activities for families! Our third son was born this past May, so we opted not to go on any vacations that would take too much travel time, and instead kept everything in New Jersey. We spent a weekend in Wildwood and a week in Ocean City, and our older boys absolutely loved visiting the boardwalks. We also spent a week in Stone Harbor, which has been a family-favorite on my husband’s side for over fifty years. My husband and I were married in Long Beach Island, so we have a big place in our heart for that delightful getaway; we love the Barnegat Light Bay “kiddie beach” on the bay side with a fenced in area in the water.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Jen: The following advice spoke to me when I was just about to start VW Booth Bus: “There’s no such thing as being completely ready. You’re never going to feel like you’ve got everything sorted and all figured out. If you get to the place where you’re just a little bit more excited than afraid, that’s when you go for it. That’s when you go all in. To hell with playing it safe.” – The Better Man Project
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Jen: Have as many dance parties with your kids as possible, and never pass up the chance to go into a photo booth with them.