We had the good fortune of connecting with Renee Gutzwiller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Renee, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I grew up around a lot of entrepreneurs in my family so it kind of was a no brainer for me. With my grandfather having his own lumber company with three locations back in the 60s-70s, my grandmother working for herself as a seamstress (she’s 83 and still sowing for her customers) and my father who has a thriving window and door business where he still works today! All of that on top of graduating from college in 2008 when the economy was at one of its’ lowest points really made me realize that what would make me happy is to be my own boss and create something that was all mine. So I went back to school- the Savannah College of Art and Design with the intention that I would gain all the knowledge I needed to start my own business. Fast forward to 2016 when I actually started my business as a side hustle and then taking it on fully in 2019!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The art that I create for Island Haus really is a reflection of my carefree lifestyle and personality I think. I have always been a lover of paper products and when traveling I would pick up a small piece of stationery or art where ever I went. And then it clicked- what if I was to create my own line of art that people could look at and be proud of their hometown or become reminded of great memories from a family vacation. Currently my work has mostly been about coastal cities along the east coast my hope is to eventually expand across the entire US and not just be a coastal product but become a staple for where ever you go – you pick up a piece from Island Haus! All of our illustrations start out as a pencil sketch and then once I have narrowed down the final design I outline with an archival ink pen and then begin the painting process. I use watercolor paints for all of my designs- which can be time consuming but it really gives me the whimsical look I want my brand to be. The time it takes for each design roughly takes a week from start to finish, because after the painting process is complete I then scan my illustrations into photoshop to clean up all the imperfections. From there it goes on all of the products we currently carry- which really is my favorite part because it makes me feel like my illustrations have come to life!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is such a tough question living in Charleston because the options are endless!!! But if I had to choose this would be my weekend line up: Friday: Start off with brunch at Park Cafe, shop all my favorite local spots downtown – The Tiny Tassel ( for the cutest accessories) – J. Stark ( for the perfect custom canvas bag) – Old Whaling Co. ( for the best smelling bath bombs and lotions) Snag a sweet treat from Sugar Bake shop Continue on with a walk to the Battery, Rainbow Row and Waterfront Park – Stop by the Miller Gallery & Island Haus Shop! – End the day with a fun cocktail at the Gin Joint! Saturday: Head to Sullivans Island for a little beach day- with a pit stop at the Co-op for a Frose of course Enjoy a bit to eat on the island at Poe’s, Mex 1, or the Obstinate Daughter! Followed by drinks on Shem Creek at Salt Water Cowboy- for the best Charleston sunset! Sunday: Head over to the Celadon Sunday Flea for all the local goods! ( This was the first market I set up at when I started Island Haus and during that time I met some many amazing customers who are still customers of mine today as well as other makers who have become life long friends) For dinner I would definitely end the weekend with a nice wood fired pie from Coastal Crust in Mt. Pleasant and maybe even a brownie sundae from Ye Old Ice Cream
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is dedicated to my family, especially my supportive parents! They have always allowed me to follow my crazy dreams and let me be myself without judgement. I also wanted to dedicate this shoutout to my husband who pushed me to take my hobby and interest to the next level – without his support there would be no Island Haus Co.
All images are by: Aneris Photography @anerisphotos www.anerisphotography.com