Jeff Renow Informal alliances built a small fortune
By Ellen McGirt

(MONEY Magazine) – Fresh from commercial art school, Jeff Renow immediately found work in the heady swirl of the 1980s New York advertising scene. It was fun, though unfulfilling. "I didn't want to spend my career coming up with ads for adult diapers," he says with a laugh. And the allure of art was strong. Renow began a decorative painting and mural business in 1987, creating an informal guild with carpenters, designers and builders. Then the entrepreneurial bug bit hard. Renow and seven friends moved to North Carolina, bought small tracts of land, then built and sold several homes a year: "We did together what we couldn't do separately." By 1997, he was ready to paint murals again. He now bills close to $500,000 a year, and at 41 owns a cool million dollars' worth of real estate in South Carolina. --E.M.