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Gem Swartz

CEO
Catalyst Marketing Agency

Location: Denver, CO
Founded: 2016
Industry: Marketing

Catalyst Marketing Agency can trace its origins to two women meeting for coffee and looking for a new way to approach marketing, both for employees and clients.

At that meeting, Gem Swartz and Robin Emiliani decided to take a risk and start Catalyst Marketing Agency, a firm that would be different and bold, one that would produce quality work but also foster a work environment where employees loved to be, the company said.

Swartz brought her extensive experience working with agencies. Emiliani’s background was on the client side. Together, they launched a plan that allowed Catalyst to grow from startup to strong company with clients such as Microsoft, Adobe and World Kinect.

Catalyst Marketing Agency is a creative agency based in Denver that exists to jolt creativity, the company said. The business has achieved exponential growth year-over-year, and the focus in 2022 is on operations and preparation for scalability.

“Taking the time to acknowledge and understand (by asking lots of questions) makes the difference in how we craft communication and lead a diverse team in the workplace,” said Swartz, Catalyst’s CEO. “It also helps us be a better partner to our clients. At Catalyst, we create brands and campaigns that connect our clients’ products and services more deeply with their customers because we bring the customer perspective and their emotional triggers to the forefront.”

In five years, the goal is to grow in both the level of quality and service Catalyst provides to its customers. The agency intends to create a work environment so enticing and enriching that Catalyst will attract the best talent from around the world, the company said.

Swartz is exceptional at growing the company’s accounts, her team said. In 2021, her contributions led to a 71% increase in Catalyst’s sales.

Swartz has followed through on the initial goal to make Catalyst different from standard marketing agencies for its employees. Under Swartz’s leadership, the company takes employee health and wellness seriously, offering each employee a $300 per month health and wellness allowance to spend on services that make them feel their best. These items include gym memberships, therapy, acupuncture, massages, manicures, and enrichment classes. Every nonexempt employee is given unlimited paid time off (PTO), so they can take adequate time to disconnect and recharge.

“Gem is intelligent and humble, resilient and caring, and strong and empathetic,” her staff said.

Swartz is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program at Babson College, which is a network of small business owners across the country whose companies have a collective revenue of $12 billion. After witnessing the struggle faced by so many small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she served as state captain for Colorado, meeting with government officials to amplify the voice of small businesses. She also recently joined the Leadership Council of the National Association of Small Businesses to continue her advocacy work.

Of all her achievements, Swartz is most proud of starting a successful business as an immigrant from the Philippines, her staff said, and she aims to help other underrepresented female entrepreneurs to fulfill their business dreams.

“I plan to remain influential and an industry leader simply by putting in the hard work, staying open-minded and curious, and inviting people to link arms with me along the way,” she said.

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Honoree quote

"I plan to remain influential and an industry leader simply by putting in the hard work, staying open-minded and curious, and inviting people to link arms with me along the way."

Gem says: