René Geneva is founder + CEO of Texas Indie Solar, a Fulbright-Hayes Fellow, writer, family woman, Airbnb Superhost, and motorcycle enthusiast. Her work abroad in the apparel industry led her to become an early adopter of off-grid solar photovoltaics.
Thomas Renko is our lead design-builder and master carpenter. Also a fine artist, he graduated summa cum laude from Miami University of Ohio with a BFA concentrating in oil painting and sculpture. His other job is as an art director while design-building awesome places to house this art. He had enjoyed renovating vintage modern houses, building furniture, remodeling trailers, and classic motorcycles. His current project is a Vintage CB Honda.
A note to the press: We realize we need better photos of us and are working on that. If you need something sooner – please contact us to put in a request.
Did we mention René + Thomas are married? Are so, and together they design-build fun solar powered things, including flagship Pong the solar powered Airstream and the Solar Dome, a sun-powered public art sculpture. Both of these projects led to the commercial designs for the Vanopy.
Their offices are located in Austin, Texas in a 1959 900 sqft ranch house, which also may be booked as an Airbnb (as well as the solar Airstream).
FUN FACTS: René+Thomas
* Loving refer to themselves as RaT
* Met as neighbors when he wanted to purchase her vintage motorcycle that would complete his small collection. She declined as it matches her hair. Turns out his matching model bike matches her eyes
* Married after falling in love while remodeling a vintage Airstream together
Jack of all trades seems to be the norm. They appreciate the connectivity of humanity around the world and have discovered much through their own global travels over the years. Together they have worked in Nicaragua with sewing groups as well as with solar energy, managed fine art works from established NYC Auction Houses, spun fire with Diablo de Los Fuegos – a troupe in Switzerland, Designed and directed elegant Art Collections in private mansions all across North America and Maui, dirt-surfed in the Alps, even spoke for the US Embassy in Austria on a Fulbright-Hayes grant.
René Geneva In-depth Bio + Press
Homeless as a teenager, René Geneva started her first company at 19. Prior to finding her passion in solar energy, she owned Rene Geneva Design LLC – a fashion house specializing in eco-friendly and fair trade women’s clothing. These experiences took her around the world to work with indigenous communities in fair trade apparel manufacturing. While she worked in Nicaragua she toured with Suni Solar and others installing solar arrays in far out places.
Her fashion collections were shown at Mercedes Benz Fashion Weeks, sold in Whole Foods Market, was a subject of the Oxygen Network’s show, Wedding Master’s, and won her Austin’s Designer of the Year. In 2010, René was awarded a Fulbright-Hayes to Austria to speak about the green fashion industry with an elegant fashion show in the heart of Vienna.
That same year she closed up the fashion business and founded Texas Indie Solar. Her career took a turn to solar photovoltaics with a specialty in off-grid battery systems and her first contract involved Willie Nelson’s solar stage trailer. She has also had the pleasure of being a part of the Tour de Fat’s solar trailers, several music festivals, and solar powered public art installations – sometimes of her design, sometimes not.
She believes technology will help end poverty in developing communities. Since her first working encounter with solar in the middle-of-nowhere Nicaragua, she has devoted herself to furthering the portability of solar panels. The making of the Vanopy has been a labor of love that combines passions of solar and sewing.
Designer of the Year
*note – with the exception of Orange Magazine, all else listed was on the topic of René’s organic fashions and her work with developing communities abroad. This includes press on prior solar projects but all happened before the Vanopy came to be.
Publications: Orange Magazine (Solar Airstream remodel, René + Thomas), Bust Mag, W Mag, California Apparel News (multiple), The Washington Times, Women’s Wear Daily (multiple), In Style, IlVernerdí (Rome), Surface, Hollywood Weekly, Yogi Times, Austin Women, Austin Monthly, Rare Magazine, Jewell Magazine, Feedback Magazine, La Times, Houston Chronicle, Austin Chronicle (multiple), Santa Monica Mirror (multiple)
Television: WE TV’s Wedding Central 2008– Wedding Masters: Featured designer; Sept 2009 – New Tang Dynasty Television, 2010- EHow, Simply Beautiful (Veria Network) 2007/2009: Washington Life, Featured Designer; KLRU Austin, KTLA Los Angeles (multiple), Fox News LA, Fox News Austin, Today Show MSNBC, Hollywood Live
Blogs: Elle Magazine, Treehugger, PaperMag, Dwell Magazine, White Apricot, Zaproot, IdealBright, StylePhile, The Green Loop, Namli Talk, Hollywood Closeup, LyraMag, BlogCritics, Fashion Wire Daily, Yahoo News, Diva Village, Hip Candy, That Austin Girl, Nirvana Style, Wearing the Future, Green Girl Designs, 944, The Label Lab, Easy Writers, Zimbio