Jude Connelly was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up largely in rural central Massachusetts in a family that embraces outdoor adventure. He worked locally and played sports throughout high school and college, graduating from The Bromfield School in Harvard, MA and Fitchburg State University. He completed post-graduate education in specialty woodcraft and design at the famed Yestermorrow School in Waitsfield, Vermont.
Among Jude’s pursuits today are hiking, camping, swimming, rock climbing, snowboarding, and #VANLIFE adventures. Jude can often be found taking a post-work swim in Bare Hill Pond, backflipping from the trainbridge into the Nashua River, “sending” a local boulder, or clinging to a rock face in the Whites. His rock climbing interests have played a pivotal role in driving his passion for adventure travel – from the American West to Europe and beyond.
After college, Jude worked for 6 years as a scientist at a pair of innovative biotech companies in Boston. In 2013, the arc of his life would change forever when his older brother, Dylan, another outdoor enthusiast and close friend, died of a brain tumor. Through this tragedy, Jude realized that life can be short and that it is important to pursue one’s passions while alive. So, after 6 weeks of hiking with a life-long friend in the Swiss Alps, where he did some soul-searching, Jude left the biotech field and enrolled at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont to pursue his building passion and learn the art and science of speciality woodcraft and design. After graduating from Yestermorrow, Jude started his career in designing and building. He quickly gained a dedicated following, valued for his unique talents of cabinet making, finish carpentry, and his ability to transform the living spaces of his customers.
Putting passion & experience together to create a dream van for travel and adventure
In 2015, Jude upfit a Mercedes Sprinter Van (2015 2500 4X4 170WB) and headed west. Designing and building the van, adventuring in it, interacting with people all over the country brought together Jude’s highest passions. During these travels, many people asked for a tour of the van – at campgrounds, at parks and wilderness sites or just around town. Jude talked to these folks and learned about their life stories, their hopes and dreams. He realized how the van sparked people’s imaginations for living and thriving as much as his own. Jude desired to help others reach their dreams and pursue their passions.
From understanding people’s needs to starting Nirvana Upfitters
After understanding others’ desires to build-out vans in pursuit of their own passions and life trajectories, Jude determined that there was a lack of speciality van design/builders in the New England area. Therefore, he founded Nirvana Upfitters in October 2018.
Nirvana is open for business and currently taking new orders for van conversions. Contact us to start your adventure and design your dream van today!