Hot Fuzz: Meet one of Charleston's Visionary Designers
Photo of Helen Rice courtesy of Fuzzco
It's easy to see the wealth of inspiration Charleston offers creative minds. With its balconied homes and legacy architecture, the city is visibly steeped in history and beauty; artisanal food and drink establishments spill onto every rambling, tree-lined street; a natural, dreamy coastline surrounds the city. The Holy City has always been a haven for "the good life," which makes it the perfect creative space for young, lifestyle-driven brands and the visionaries behind them. Helen Rice founded Fuzzco, a digitally focused design and branding firm, with her husband Josh Nissenboim in 2005 on a single PC. At that time, a contemporary, entrepreneurial, and creative scene was emerging in Charleston, bringing with it a new picture of "southern living." Fuzzco quickly became a driving force in that growth as the need for the company's artful services accelerated. Helen talked to us about modern Charleston, and gave us an idea of what it takes to make a passion a project.
Holiday Video for Bonobos courtesy of Fuzzco
What brought you to Charleston?
I grew up in Charleston, about eight blocks from where our office is now. It’s an incredible city and the only place I’ve lived that has ever felt like home. It’s just enough city for me, not too big, not too small. I went to school in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is where I met Josh. After that we lived in Madison, Wisconsin for a year. We loved the midwest but the cold was tough. I was ready to move back to sweaty, salty, sunny South Carolina.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Fuzzco, and the work that you do.
Fuzzco turned 10 years old at the beginning of this year. My husband Josh and I started the company in our apartment on Line Street in Charleston. We are currently 18 people with offices in Portland, Oregon, and Charleston. We do naming, branding, website design and development, photography and video for clients big and small.
Members of the Fuzzco team in Charleston Image Courtesy of Fuzzco
What are a few of your favorite projects? What’s a dream project?
Working with MailChimp has been one of the most incredible experiences we've had. The work we do with them is so varied and challenging, I’m incredibly proud of that collaboration. It’s a dream project come true.
Photo courtesy of Fuzzco
We would love to work with Elon Musk on one of his incredible projects. We also dream about working more for ourselves. We had a lot of fun making Pocket Art Director and I see us developing other products.
Courtesy of Fuzzco
You’ve done a lot of work branding some of our favorite Charleston businesses. Of your local projects, what were some of the most fun for you?
We love working with our local restaurant clients. The Ordinary and Two Boroughs Larder were a couple of projects that we had a lot of fun with. We are also super excited about our collaboration with COAST Brewing Company. They’ve been clients of ours for about eight years and we recently worked on a rebrand for them.
Photo courtesy of Fuzzco
Courtesy of Fuzzco
It’s been amazing working with Candlefish. They have a brick and mortar store and an online shop where you can buy all kinds of candles and other ephemera—we’re super proud of what we were able to do for them. I think the shopping bags we did for them are some of the most beautiful things we’ve ever made. The Candlefish team are incredible and have a lot of ambition—it’s an exciting partnership.
Shopping bags for Candlefish Image courtesy of Fuzzco
Bike Law is another one that feels really important. We’re really happy with the work we did with them and how it’s impacted their business. It’s been so exciting to see them grow and succeed.
But to be honest, those are just a few projects that immediately come to mind—it’s impossible to pick favorites. I feel like we are excited about and personally invested in every project we take on. It’s inspiring to work so closely with the local business owners.
The new Charleston offices. Image Courtesy of Fuzzco
Charleston is full of great architecture, and you have an awesome space. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
We’ve been in our building for a couple years now. Our previous office was a block north and about one-sixth the size. We got in there thinking that we’d be about an eight-person company. That proved to be wrong very quickly. After about a year and a half we were up to 13 people and still in that tiny old sweet shop, but we couldn't move right away.
The finding, purchasing and renovation process of the new building took about two years, and the renovations in particular were fairly involved. We added a porch in the front to give us some private outdoor space. Before we came here, the building was used to store medical equipment and was home to a craftsman who restored antique furniture. There was no plumbing before we installed it so the story is that the furniture maker went across the street to Hominy Grill every day for 20 years to use the bathroom!
Edited by Lucie Shelly
Head over to the South Carolina travel guide for tips on how to navigate Fuzzco's hometown like a local.