The story behind the city’s latest and greatest newcomer gift baskets (seriously, can locals get them, too?)

Victoria Schweizer is something of a Renaissance woman. She’s worked at a law firm, in derivatives on Wall Street, and in front of the camera in Hollywood. (Chelsea Handler was her boss once—and yes, she’s a little bit crazy.) She’s also an artist with a contemporary, Andy Warhol flair, and owns Vane Gallery in South End.

But perhaps the 48-year-old is best known in Charlotte for her growing business, Southern Luxurie, a company that offers high-end gift baskets to newcomers so they get a taste of some of the city’s best the goods and services. Her clients are twofold: the people giving the baskets—largely real estate agents and executive recruiters—and the businesses vying to be in the baskets so they can connect with newcomers.

Each basket costs between $100 and $500, and is filled with goods and services valued at $5,000 to $10,000. Participating businesses can decide the exact demographics of the recipients they’d like to get in front of, whether that’s young parents with children or residents of homes worth more than $1 million.

SouthPark chatted with Schweizer about Charlotte growth, Independence Day, and facing your fears. Edited for brevity and clarity.

You’ve lived in Paris, London, New York, L.A. What do you think of Charlotte?
It’s perfect here. Everyone is wonderful, and they make time for you. And it’s fascinating to see how quickly the city has grown. That was one of the reasons I was inspired to start Southern Luxurie—one Thanksgiving afternoon, I saw so many cranes in the sky.

Tell me more about the inspiration that led to your business.
We were watching the movie Independence Day, and there’s a part where they’re in helicopters and say: “Commence Welcome Wagon.” And at that moment I stopped talking. My friend said, “Are you having a stroke?” And I said: “Whatever happened to the welcome wagon?”

Then I got up and went to the second bedroom and sat there for two hours, just researching. I saw the “welcome wagon” had been reduced to random coupons for $10 here and there. We needed something like this but on a more high-end level.

So how are your baskets different from traditional ones?
You can give somebody a gift basket with wine and mixed nuts, but ultimately they’ll either put it away in a closet or eat it in one day and it’s forgotten about. These are luxury. No coupons—all gift cards and gift certificates for complimentary services to spas, restaurants, retailers. There’s a $500 Perry’s gift card with no minimum. A $47 complimentary pedicure. A $50 gift card to Topgolf.

We also send out email on a bi-weekly basis to all people who have received baskets. And every time there’s somebody new added to the basket, every single person who has received a basket already gets all the new stuff.

One of the most pivotal moments of your life came when you were visiting London and got hit by a car while walking. What happened?
I was crossing the street and got taken out by this guy. I was paralyzed from the waist down for four days. But the guy who hit me, he and his wife stayed with me in the hospital. And while I was high as a kite (on medication), he asked me: What would you like to do?”

I said, “I want to be in the film industry, on a movie set.” Well, he was in the film industry, Bollywood. He was like, “Alright, when you can walk again, you let me know.”

He got me a job. On my first day, I met Chris Rock. On my second day, I met Anthony Hopkins. All of this wonderfulness because of a tragedy. That was the first time in my life I was taught not to be scared.



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