Foster Huntington lives life on his own terms. After working as a designer for Ralph Lauren and being on the fast-track for success in corporate America, Huntington made the calculated decision to stop working for the man, and start living out of a van. From there, the 28 year-old Oregon-native started #VanLIfe, a hashtag that has since turned into a nomadic movement to get people out of their desks and on to the open road. But the young traveler soon decided to change course yet again, and root himself elsewhere for his newest project: building his own dream treehouse from the ground up (literally).
Towering on a massive fir tree, The Cinder Cone -- Huntington's multi-platform treehouse -- is fully immersed in the natural landscape of Washington state. The full set up includes a skate bowl and a wood fired soaking tub as well, proving to be the epitome of #wanderlust goals. But for Huntington, the real highlight wasn't his new home, but the memories he made while building it alongside some of his closest (and most skilled) carpenter friends; it's what has validated this entire experience for him.
It's safe to say that at this point Huntington's major risk paid off big. He's now the author of three books, "The Burning House," "Home Is Where You Park It" and "The Cinder Cone Build Book," runs an viral Instagram account that has caught the eye of over 1 million avid followers, films and directs his own documentary-style videos, and makes the time to go off the grid in search of his next big adventure.
We recently spoke to Foster Huntington about what it was like to leave his conventional life behind, where his love of the outdoors first began, and more!
And if you want even more Foster Huntington news, head over to AOL.com at 12 p.m. ET to see more exclusive features, including his perspective on Instagram.
What was your background like before you started A Restless Transplant?
I started that blog in 2008 when I was in college in Maine. I didn't had a typical college experience because I went to a small school where everyone lived on campus and I wasn't really into that. I lived off campus and was really interesting in going around Maine and taking photographs. A Restless Transplant became a great outlet for me to document the things happening around me while traveling. I really had no idea what I wanted to do after I was done with college. What ended up happening was that six months into doing A Restless Transplant, a designer from Ralph Lauren saw it and got in touch with me. The next time I was in New York I met with the design team there and ended up getting an internship doing concept design from mens sportswear. My job was really picking photos for inspiration and creating mood boards. I interned there and then at the end of my summer internship they offered me a job, so I went back a finished school and as soon as I was done I moved to New York and worked for a year and a half there.
I loved living in New York and I was really good at my job, but I realized that having a corporate design job wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. So I decided to pursue some other projects, and while I was still working I began The Burning House which was a Tumblr site where people could submit photos of their belongings that they would take with them if their house was burning. It was a small portrait project that ended up blowing up, and afterwards I was approached by HarperCollins to turn it into a book. I realized that with the money I received from them was enough for me to fund my fantasy of buying a van and traveling, surfing, and backpacking. This was back in 2011 and Instagram was in its infancy then, but I identified it as a platform that I wanted to focus on and showcase my photos on. So I lived in my camper for three years showcasing photos, and then I decided that I wanted to set up a home base and tackle a different project. So that's how the idea of the treehouse came to life.
What was the reaction from people you were working with when you decided to leave Ralph Lauren?
They were really supportive, but also a bit shocked. People didn't really leave the job that I had; I was on the fast-track and one of the youngest people to ever hold that position in the design world. Some people definitely spoke out and said, "What are you doing? You're blowing this!"
New York City is also a tough place to live if you really need to be in the outdoors too. It's hard to escape city life once you're in it.
I mean New York is amazing and I loved it. I would live there again and when I think of it, I have such fond memories of my time there. There are so many cool, super talented people who live there. I just needed more visual inspiration and needed to be outside and active and it was hard to do that in Manhattan -- unless you have a ton of money but I was broke when I was there.
Was being in the outdoors something you grew up on?
Yeah! I grew up outside of Portland [Oregon] snowboarding a ton. And when I was in high school I wanted to be a professional snowboarder. Also, my parents were super into backpacking growing up, so I had this big connection to the outdoors that I unfortunately lost touch with when I was living in Manhattan.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 12 pm EST for more exclusives on Foster Huntington, including his perception of Instagram.
For more past YouShouldKnow stars, scroll through the gallery below!
YSK Social Stars
Meet the man who left corporate America to live in a treehouse
What are you looking at 👀😂
How I look every day because life is too short to not have fun with yourself 🙆🏻
Move the way you want to move 💃🏼
This is my face when someone mentions food!🤓 Releasing a new video tonight! Can't wait!❤️
Shooting a new vid for you guys!! Uploading Wednesday!!!😍❤️🎬 #teamworkmakesthedreamwork
It's the most wonderful time of the year❤️🎄🎁
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Bonjour, je m'appelle Meredith. Comment t'appelle tu?
Out of my 3 years of studying French this is one of the only things I remember 😂👋
AHH!!! We hit 3MILLION subbies today!! 💞🎉😭🎂 I love my #macbabies so so much!!! You all mean the WORLD to me!!! Our family is growing so much! Thank you for allowing me to just be my awkward self. I love you and I can never thank you enough for all the opportunities you've given me!! 💞🎉🎂✨😱
i like pink doors ♡
ps..new video going up soon! ahh who's excited?!? link in my bio! also, what's your fav color?! hehe 💞✌🏼️🎉
until next time thailand ♡
ps...guess who just uploaded a vlog!! you get a sneak peek of my final room decor!! ahh! also, how did you find my youtube channel? i'm so curious! 💞🌎✌🏼️
i just wanna travel the world ✈️ where should I go next ?😉
so ready for halloween 👻
SOOOO, I just uploaded a brand new HALLOWEEN VIDEO!! Click the link in my bio to watch!🎃
eye see you 👀 Ps: thank you all for your amazing and continued support. I want you all to know how much I love and appreciate you so much. xoxo
Have you seen my new video yet!? It's all about music festivals so make sure to check it out on my YouTube channel! + there's some friends in it☺️
My new video is dropping today!!! Can you guess what it'll be..?😗
u like em crazy babe don't u
the #londonhasfallen premiere last night 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
when the waiter passes your table with food
Love him 💕
Fun fact : purple and orange teacups are the fastest! :)
WE OUT HERE AT THE #KCA's and the inner child in me is screaming.
trying my hardest to be "fierce"....
Welcome to slime history @rebelwilson !! 😁😂 #KCA2016
2 0 1 6 - #HAPPYNEWYEAR on the water 2-5~6
We love taking walks, no phones, just talking about life. If you can, make time every week to take a 30-minute walk with a friend or a loved one. It's a cool way to get to know each other on a deeper level!
Leap year gives us all 24 extra hours to #DayItForward! We’ve teamed up w/ @Chevrolet to send love to #UsTheFamily - check out our Twitter feed tomorrow!!
Have you heard?! We're joining our friends @ptxofficial on the first leg of their World Tour this Spring! Click the link in our bio for tix, or visit https://www.ustheduo.com/tour :) PUMPED to meet some new and current #UsTheFamily members!
NEW VIDEO: Creepy Things Girls Do 😂 Comment a, "🐬" if you've watched it/will watch it
Guess who's birthday is in 5 days?? (No it's not Dylan O'Brien) 😎
I came here to live life like nobody is watching ❥ ♡
Happy Valentine's Day loves❤️
Did you catch the latest blog post on the blog (link in profile)?? Who else loves afternoon tea?? // 📷: @torrancecoombs #TheAListIreland
Dorky smiles + a photobomb by some serious woman with a serious collar 😜😜 #HereCoombsTheBride
Soft curls and red lips 💋 // 📷: @torrancecoombs
Every girl ought to have a pair of nude suede pumps! Nothing like New shoes Monday with @mgemi. Get more details on @liketoknow.it www.liketk.it/2fcOb #liketkit #lovemgemi
On the streets of Paris in red and how I style my street style looks for fashion week revealed on #thechrisellefactor today! Direct link in bio 👉🏻 http://thechrisellefactor.com/2016/03/power-color/ 📷:@karenrosalie_
Rendezvous in Paris in Pink on #TheChriselleFactor today. Direct link in bio 👉🏻 http://thechrisellefactor.com/2016/03/rendezvous-in-pink/
Your not ready for this #chromat #nyfw #teamthis
We run THIS show #HBDWang #rkobh #teamthis
When it's "chilly" out 😜 #ootd
ATL tonight 😏
had the King of LA @yg come through last night 🙏🏽
If you guys saw how I looked before you would think it was magic 😩😭 My beautiful makeup for #kca by @beautybydianalomelin 💫
Winding down with @SkinnyMintCom 😌 #TheOriginalTeatox #ad
Eating all that sushi finally turned me into a mermaid! 😭
for @projectmermaids #saveourbeach
Photography by @angelinaventurellaphoto
Hair and Makeup by @ljbeauty
Bra by @edwordgarcia
Sponsored by @sexyhair
Project Manager @crissycrissybobissy
If you know me well or have read interviews I’ve done then you know that @marthastewart has always been my biggest inspiration when it comes to food. One of my goals is to be a combination of my two idols- Martha and Andy Warhol. As a child I would dream about spending the time and care like her to prepare a table, creating something very special for people to join around and share a meal. Watching her cook inspired me to teach myself how to hand weigh ingredients, to always have my mise en place organized, how to pronounce words like vichyssoise, and her wide usage of produce variety is honestly a large part of where my curiosity for our food sparked from. With this said, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I was told that I was one of the 25 creatives @marthastewart is inspired by in celebration of their 25th anniversary. Thank you for helping me think and dream so big Martha, I am honored to share this and to make you all of the colors. #25yearsofmartha #foodgradients
I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself. I’m Brittany and I recognize that I seem to do a decent job of not sharing much about my actual self here or in interviews. I prefer to keep my art about the food and not myself. This community and my photography have become the biggest part of my life, I love it more than I have words to explain but there's more that makes me who I am. So for a quick moment here’s a bit- I’m 24, a taurus, live in Seattle but grew up in San Diego, my favorite food is a cheeseburger (super thin patty, toasted bun), my favorite bands are @stygoc and @metric, my first tattoo was the one on chest- it’s still my favorite and says ‘love your life’, something many people sadly forget. I was raised by my grandparents, I love to make small collections of items like rocks and stickers, I grew up playing a lot of sports competitively, I love Star Wars and have Boba Fett tattooed on my arm but Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite movie. Many times I have been told that being an artist “can’t be a real job” and that I was wasting my time trying to do so. I smile everyday not because I proved them wrong but because I achieved a goal. Dream big, everyone.
Thought I might start this week off with a past candy photo. Here's to hoping you all have the best days ahead! #foodgradients
Köln!!!! Didn't pronounce your name right on stage but... You were AMAZING. Only a couple shows left in EU-- next up, London... (📷: @annamaria_langer )
Practicing our Spanish with @tvtelehit Mexico 🇲🇽
Sam wants to play Jack & Rose in Titanic but Casey's all "nah i'm good, have fun tho mang"
We drove 28 hours to get to Canada. The jeep is still running💀😍
The Dallas episode for @heyusax is the funniest yet! Go watch it now on @go90 now!😄😄