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Happy International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day!

Iris is a brand for women, by women. Femininity is at the heart of everything we do, from the cut of our clothes to the championing of today’s most innovative female-owned-brands.  To celebrate International Women's day, we are excited to invite you to come a little closer and get to know some amazing female founders whose brands we stock at IRIS.

Annie Pollet

IRIS founder Annie gives us some insight into her day to day as Creative Director at IRIS, the work life balance and what being a female founder means to her...                                                                                                                                                    
What was your inspiration for the first Iris boutique and how has the business evolved?

Iris started when my twins were three years old. Previous to becoming a mum, I'd had a busy job in fashion, but wasn't sure how I would juggle the travelling and long stints away from home with the demands of looking after small children. I had recently moved into what was then the still undiscovered area of Queen's Park, which was quite under the radar. With my friend Sarah, we came up with the idea of opening a sweet, multi-brand boutique in the area - I still remember how a few of the locals were quite cross as they couldn't believe we were opening a store selling dresses when they still didn't have a good butcher, fishmonger or deli in the area... but we proved them wrong as we soon became established and part of the beating heart of the Queens Park community.


Can you take us through a 'typical' day as Creative Director of Iris?

It's a cliché but no two days are the same. As Creative Director my reach is fairly wide over quite a few aspects of the business: from the buying of our brands, to the development of our own brand collection, to our marketing strategy and visual marketing objectives - you pretty much have to give your view on everything from a creative perspective and sometimes my head is swirling. I love the fact I'm often on the move and get to travel to the London villages of our stores - I like seeing how much London can change from one village to another and how women's needs and shopping habits can vary, it's fascinating! I also travel to Paris for buying appointments (we stock quite a few French brands) which is fun too - I love seeing the newness and getting inspiration from the brands we buy, or to have a quick pit stop (if we are lucky) at Merci. I feel lucky as Creative Director of Iris. Though it is a fairly complicated business spanning retail, digital, production and even wholesale, there is always so much to learn and continually be inspired by, though there are never enough hours in the day!

Can you you tell us about your own brand, by Iris?

The label by Iris grew organically from what started as purely a multi-brand business. We love the brands we buy, but there was always something that we felt our customers needed that we couldn't always provide, and it seemed logical to start providing this ourselves. From our years as a multi-brand boutique, we had a unique insight into what sold well, what women were looking for, and who the customer was. We started this collection with literally a few linen jersey t-shirts and it has evolved to now account for 50% of what we sell in our Iris stores - we are so proud of this achievement and know there's still so much potential for growth - it really is an exciting journey.

What does the next chapter hold for Iris?

I think we'll continue to expand all of our channels at Iris. We want to grow and improve on our digital platform, and are also open to opening new stores - the big push is for the growth of our own brand collection by Iris, but we still love and will continue to buy the amazing brands we buy, as customers really love the mix between the two and this business model is working really well for us.


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Rachel Landon

Rachel Landon, a naturopath by trade and founder of organic brand Wilder Botanics - a wellness and beauty brand made solely  with herbs and natural ingredients which is available in all our Iris store locations  and is much loved for its calming & wellness promoting properties.

What inspired you to set up your business?
I'd been in my practice as a naturopath and herbalist seeing patients for many years and I realised that there weren’t many places for them to buy herbs in their most natural organic form in simple yet potent formulas. Also I felt like there was a need to reconnect the ingredients inside the bottle to its natural source, hopefully inspiring foraging or just a reconnection with seasonal wild herbs.

Why do you think women are good at running businesses?
I feel most women are good multitaskers, thats not to say that men aren’t though!My mum ran her own car business, she had multiple garages and was really the only woman within what was then in the 80’s a male dominated industry. I watched her do this with a strong feminine charm, and grace that automatically encouraged the same energy within the workspace.

What helps you with the inevitable life juggle running your own business requires?
I saw my mum work so hard often 6-7 days a week and without judgement this is something I try to avoid with my family, but with a small business I’m often having to work all hours and conscious of being on one screen or another when I should be fully with the kids.I’m working on it! I hope seeing us do the inevitable ‘juggle' inspires them in the long run.

Mentally & physically yoga helps me manage the inevitable stresses of everyday life, this and drinking pot fulls of Flourish Tea throughout the day with a few drops of Sacred drops in there too!
I love our small team they are magical women and each of us makes sure all backs are covered and we’re all supported.

What are the benefits of working for yourself/ pitfalls?
The benefits... being able to be there when my family needs me. Implementing the creative aspects of work is really rewarding, and I’m always learning, I find my days are never the same. The pitfalls..most probably is that a days work doesn’t end I find it hard to switch off, and the financials are a constant.

Any words of advice to future female entrepreneurs?
Make sure you are passionate about what you are investing your time in. Make sure you manage your own wellbeing within your working week. Find this time and stick with it within your weekly plans. Definitely find the right people to invest with, and make sure it’s the right team that you can communicate with completely as yourself. Find solid financial advice before you start anything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure you are flexible and that your plans are flexible being able to adapt quickly is super important.


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Anna Laub

Anna Laub is the Founder and Creative Director of PRISM, an innovative and award-winning brand selling eyewear, swimwear and beachwear. Iris is proud to stock PRISM2: a collection of multi-functional, multi-fit pieces that can be worn as swimwear, underwear or sportswear. Sustainably made in Italy using a 3D-knitting technique that minimises waste and an eco-dye that is Greenpeace-certified. What inspired you to set up your business?
I was working in the fashion arena already and I was looking for optical glasses and couldn’t find any I liked. For me it was about filling that gap in the market. I wanted to make things people needed that were also beautiful and exciting: combining fashion and function. 

Why do you think women are good at running businesses?
We are natural multi-taskers – we know how to use our time as efficiently as possible. 

What helps you with the inevitable life juggle that running your own business requires?
It's about prioritising, learning to deal with stress and remembering at the end of the day what is important. Things will go wrong and – as long as no one dies – it's really not the end of the world!

What are the benefits and pitfalls of working for yourself?
The main benefit is being your own boss. You revel in any success (although of course you then have to deal with the failures), and you enjoy – in theory! – a flexible schedule. However, in reality, working for yourself is a 24/7 situation, as you are responsible for everything at the end of the day – for good or for bad!` Any words of advice to future female entrepreneurs?
Be clear on your path. Plan well, budget well and keep your eye on the prize. It’s easy to get distracted.


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Sybille Rodger Vasselin

Sybille founder of Petite Mendigote - a much loved French brand which we have stocked at Iris since its get go. Though it  remains relatively under the radar in the UK it is garnering a reputation as a brand which epitomises French cool girl chic as personified by its founder Sybille Vasselin.

What inspired you to set up your business?
I was still a student, studying law and political sciences, I passed my Bar exam but had always been drawn to fashion. At the time, the first hit bags appeared on the luxury market. Accessories were super in fashion. I realised that, in France, we had no stylish and yet accessible accessories brands and that's when I decided to launch my own brand. My teacher in finance helped me set up the business plan and I got started. I was young and totally crazy I guess !!

Why do you think women are good at running businesses?
I think they are good at it, because they have to deal with so many topics all at once in their daily lives (juggling personal and professional) that they have no other choice other than being super efficient. Besides, woman are very courageous and they delve deeper into subjects.

What helps you with the inevitable life juggle running your own business requires?
Being super organised and super optimistic ! I believe every issue comes with a solution.

What are the benefits of working for yourself/ pitfalls?
Being your own boss provides you with huge freedom ! You are free to organise yourself as you want. But, sometimes, you can feel lonely. Lonely with your stress, with the decisions you need to make and with a very intense level of responsibility to carry.

Any words of advice to future female entrepreneurs?
Go, go, go !! Don’t be afraid !! Keep your confidence !


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Donna Ida

Donna Ida- AKA the “jean queen,” has honed her business model to perfection and now focuses solely on providing perfect fitting denim to women whatever their body shape in fits guaranteed to flatter in all the right places. With a longstanding and loyal following she has devotees that will only buy their denim from her - needless to say her jeans fly out of our stores.

What inspired you to set up your business?
I knew I had to work for myself, which I discovered in my 20’s. I wasn’t a great employee because I always wanted to do everything my own way and I knew I would be most valuable working for myself, as the employer. I also didn’t ever want my income to be limited. I wanted it to be limited only by how hard I worked, or how smart I wanted to be. I wanted it to be on me, and nobody else.

Why do you think women are good at running businesses?
I think women just really, really juggle, and do things quickly because they have so many things to juggle. They get on, make it happen, and move on to the next thing. 

What helps you with the inevitable life juggle running your own business requires?Not thinking about it, and just doing it. I just get up and start ploughing through everything. I think if you start procrastinating it doesn’t work - and we are all guilty of that from time to time. But it’s move, move, move. Make everything happen quickly. I also don’t sit down a lot. I actually work standing up. For me, that keeps me physically moving, as well as my mind moving; I think standing and walking around is better for you.

What are the benefits of working for yourself/ pitfalls?
Every benefit. The buck stops with you. So of course that means that all the aggro is with you, but also, all the joy and satisfaction. I think working for yourself is the best thing in the world. It’s an amazing gift to yourself.

Any words of advice to future female entrepreneurs?
Just do it, and don’t give up. So many people, even friends, have said to me over the years, “Oh you work so hard”, and they see it as a negative. I think it’s such a positive thing. I love working. I have loads to do, but it’s a beautiful Monday morning and I’m living a great life, providing for myself. So I’m very lucky. Create your own destiny and the life you want.


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