Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim launched Fuzzco in Charleston in 2005. At the time, the married couple were recent college graduates and working multiple jobs — server, tutor, cab company manager and day trader — and trying to figure out their next move.
“We were both unfulfilled. I had been designing things. He had been developing websites. ... We thought, ‘Why don’t we do this for other people and do this on a bigger scale? Let’s start a company.’ One step at a time, we figured it out,” Rice said. “We didn’t go to school for it; we were self-taught. We were in the right place at the right time. Charleston was emerging. ... We rode a wave of people needing our services here and that grew to a national scale.”
The company has moved eight times since its founding, most recently to a completely renovated two-story building near the corner of Cannon Street and Rutledge Avenue. The light, open space is filled with reclaimed wood, vintage furniture and antique games.
One room has floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books and products. The staff breakfast nook has been dubbed “The Instagram Spot” for its flattering lighting, and the second floor has a full photography studio.
“We do a lot of branding, design, photography and video,” said Rice, who is co-founder and creative director. “We think about your whole experience as context, so walking in here, we want the space to reflect our design sensibilities.”
The office includes Fuzzco’s Pretend Store, which, despite its name, has real items for sale through its website. The products — such as beach towels, candles and fragrances — were designed by Fuzzco staff and brought to life through client collaborations, like the socks born out of a collaboration between Fuzzco and Hansel from Basel.
“A lot of our clients sell things, and so we wanted to experience what that’s like, all the pitfalls and struggles along the way, and how can we learn by doing it ourselves so we can help them better,” Rice said.
The agency works with Charleston brands, including Candlefish and The Ordinary, and massive companies, such as Google and Etsy. Fuzzco produces photography, videos, websites, stop-motion animation and creative content.
“What we love to do is think about things that wouldn’t traditionally be brought into the conversation,” Rice said. “It’s the little touches, the little experiences along the way with a brand that really helps a campaign.”
Relocating soon: The company plans to lease out its current space and relocate to Spring Street in the next year. The company’s co-founders bought two dilapidated homes there with plans to fully renovate them into office space.
This story originally appeared in the Oct. 17, 2016, print edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.