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Meet the South Carolina marketer behind some of the world’s biggest luxury auto brands

Emma Gwyther is the owner of Interluxe Group based in Bluffton. (Photo/Interluxe Group)

Emma Gwyther is the owner of Interluxe Group based in Bluffton. (Photo/Interluxe Group)

Emma Gwyther is the owner of Interluxe Group based in Bluffton. (Photo/Interluxe Group)

Emma Gwyther is the owner of Interluxe Group based in Bluffton. (Photo/Interluxe Group)

Meet the South Carolina marketer behind some of the world’s biggest luxury auto brands

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“We create brand experiences that move people” is the tagline that defines Emma Gwyther’s business Interluxe Group, a boutique marketing agency that creates experiences for luxury brands.

Interluxe is at the forefront of luxury automotive’s biggest events, including F1 and MODA Miami, and is the preferred marketer for brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Aston Marton and Rolls-Royce.

Gwyther sat down recently for a Q&A to explain how her business started small and ramped up with a lot of persistence and a little luck.

Question: What inspired you to start your own marketing business?

Answer: I was attending college in the UK when I met my first boss who worked at an agency that represented Mercedes. I did that for nine years and found a passion for it.

Q: Explain what you do.

A: We craft experiences that immerse our clients’ target audience in the luxury lifestyle and allow brands to effectively communicate with their target audiences. By curating events that showcase luxury products, we not only attract new enthusiasts, but also educate them on the allure of these iconic brands.

For instance, when we do driving events, much of the work requires getting people behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle. It’s creating an emotional connection that feels commensurate with the luxury experience.

Q: What brought you to the United States?

A: I was always attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States. I arrived in 2008 with two suitcases in hand. I had no funding, no contacts and was navigating a new continent and culture.

Q: How did you get your first clients?

A: I was based in California and started reaching out to automotive companies here in the U.S. It was me, as an individual, writing to companies to get my foot in the door.

Q: How difficult was it?

A: I spent quite a few years hearing people say “no,” before I started getting clients.

Q: Did you face issues initially due to being a woman?

A: No, I don’t think so. Age was more of a factor. I’ve always had confidence that if you came to the table with good ideas that people would listen, but it took some time to gain gravitas due to my age. Today we have a large base of male and female clients who have always been encouraging and the same applies to my colleagues, so I think it served me well to be a female leader. The marketplace now demands diversity, equity and inclusion, so that’s a good thing.

“I’ve dreamed of doing this work since I started my career, and I feel a sense of gratitude and accomplishment as an entrepreneur to have created something from scratch. It’s been a great experience.”

Q: What brought you to South Carolina?

A: I visited Hilton Head on vacation and I really enjoyed the area. As the business expanded, I decided that I wanted to be closer to Europe, plus most of our major accounts were in New York. I then decided that the East Coast would be a better place to raise a family. At that time, we went from a $3 (million)-$5 million business to a $4 (million)-$7 million business.

Those were the years between 2014-2018. Today you do a $30-million business, which is quite impressive given that you had to contend with COVID-19 in the subsequent years.

Q: Were you the rare business that thrived during the pandemic?

A: You could say that.

When COVID-19 hit, I thought it was the end of my career, when, in fact, we’d become very good at small, high-touch-point events. When we showcase our clients’ products, it’s generally done on a small scale. We set schedules and rotated small groups of people putting them behind the wheel, so we were holding many small events. People were able to socialize locally in these small groups and weren’t spending their money on things like vacations, for instance. At the time, they weren’t the ones taking the trips, we were. I’d board a plane and sometimes see only a few people on it.

Q: You’ve said that Bluffton, where you’re headquartered, is the fastest growing city in South Carolina. Does your team work exclusively in Bluffton?

A: We have 20 employees working in the Lowcountry across Charleston, Hilton Head, Bluffton and Savannah. We’ve hired a lot of people who’ve graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Others work remotely in California, Colorado and Florida. We understand that it’s important to have regional staff to support the activations that we do.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: I love working with new clients and carving tailored solutions to their problems. I’m fortunate to work with some of the most recognized luxury brands in the world. I’m also extremely proud of my team and the culture of trust, respect, and collaboration we’ve created. I’ve dreamed of doing this work since I started my career, and I feel a sense of gratitude and accomplishment as an entrepreneur to have created something from scratch. It’s been a great experience.