As fashion boutique Iris celebrates its 10th anniversary, one of its co-founders explains why Queen’s Park was the perfect launchpad, the secret to their success and why it means everything to be able to offer a little retail therapy

Ten years ago, trendy mums and good friends Annie Pollet and Sarah Claassen, opened a boutique ‘very spontaneously’, the plan for which was conceived in a baby massage class. They decided to sign a lease on a building in Queen’s Park and fashion boutique Iris was born. ‘We have a very special relationship with our first store. It’s where we have both lived for the past 15 years and where we have brought up our kids,’ Annie smiles. ‘Iris really does feel like it is an integral part of the community and this means it goes beyond simply being a clothes retailer.’

Iris celebrates ten years of style

Iris founders Annie Pollet and Sarah Claassen

Success in Queen’s Park led the fashion forward duo to venture beyond the area and into the neighbourhoods of other stylish mums, with Battersea, Chiswick and Amersham Iris stores following suit and opening their doors. ‘Everyone loves fashion,’ begins Annie, ‘and we wanted to make it accessible. We knew what it was like to be swamped by family life and bringing up young kids and how hard it becomes to make those trips into town. The idea of Iris was to bring fashion to you. We cater for the busy urban woman who is looking for a good mix of classic fashion that will take them from school, to the office, park or dinner.’

An evident reason why Iris has been successful amidst obstacles including the economic crisis and worries of owning a business for the first time clearly comes down to the affable ambience that you feel as soon as you walk through their doors. ‘We support our locals, knowing their family lives and the names of their kids, in all our locations,’ Annie expresses. ‘People come in just to chat and not even to shop – and I love the fact that Iris offers shopping almost as a kind of therapy.’

Iris celebrates ten years of style

Iris has been a popular part of Queen’s Park for ten years

Though Iris has grown immensely in the last decade into a multi-location boutique business and gained an online presence with their new website, the warmth, charm and neighbourliness has yet to dwindle. ‘As in all things in life, our success has come down to a few things,’ Annie considers. ‘Being in the right place at the right time with a strong vision for what we wanted to do, combined with a really good work ethic. We have both really given it our all over the years and not been scared to muck in with whatever needs doing. Never give up when things get tough has also been essential – you will get there in the end.’

Interview by Gabriella Werre

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