Meet our Friday Muse, Hannah Wiles of Iris Store + Studio

21 March 2023
By Fashion Quarterly

Meet Hannah Wiles, founder of Iris Store + Studio. Learn more about the creative and her multi-faceted beauty business shaking up the Wellington scene.

Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Images supplied by Hannah Wiles and Wellington NZ. 

Having lived a life abroad for work, Hannah Wiles has returned to New Zealand establishing Iris Store + Studio in the heart of Wellington’s CBD.  For Wiles, the path to creating Iris Store has not been straightforward, having dipped into multiple industries before finding a penchant for makeup and beauty. “I have a rather packed resume and one of those zig zagging career paths where it’s only when you’re standing still and thinking about your next move that you realise how much value there is in all the experiences you’ve had,” she says. 

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Resource Management majoring in Environmental Education Wiles opted to pursue a 5-year career at Inland Revenue. Following this, she was drawn to the medium of makeup artistry as her next ‘thing’ and decided to complete her certificate of makeup artistry. “Growing up before YouTube and influencers were a thing, I’d never known how to apply makeup and liked the idea of tapping into my creative side through colour,” explains Wiles. This decision would ultimately lead her to work for multiple global makeup retailers – Bobbi Brown in Australia, and Guerlain in New Zealand – over the span of several years. 


Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Images supplied by Hannah Wiles and Wellington NZ. 

Iris Store + Studio officially opened its doors in February of this year encompassing a melting pot of Wiles’ diverse experience in the beauty industry. One-part retail store and one-part beauty and makeup studio, the founder has combined all of her knowledge to create a seamless space for like-minded beauty lovers to enjoy. 

“I’ve worked across all facets of the beauty industry – in retailers, from the brand side, for a distributor, for a spa focused on the provision of services,” says Wiles. “There is definitely room for retail stores to be better at experience and beauty salons to be better at retail, and with Iris I’m wanting to marry and perfect the two. By experience I’m meaning service, education and empowering the customer, rather than bright, flashing lights and ‘theatre’.” 

The space itself is “a dream come true” for Wiles. Once she had the concept, she commissioned Wonder Group to bring it to life, resulting in a store that is “visually stunning, warm, and welcoming. Iris is the antithesis of white billowy spas or bright neon lit, sensory overload beauty retail,” she explains. 

Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse
Images supplied by Hannah Wiles and Wellington NZ. 

When choosing which brands to stock at Iris, Wiles opts for ones which share a similar customer-oriented focus. “I’ve handpicked brands where the founders had experience in, and passion for the beauty world and have a strong focus on their customer. I find when these criteria are met, the efficacy, textures and scents of the products are a dream to work with.” Stocking a selection of esteemed beauty brands, including Chloe Zara and Revitalash, Wiles has also diversified Aotearoa’s current beauty offerings by bringing brands Lanshin and Sana Jardin to Iris. 

“I’ve created a space for both beauty connoisseurs and those who are more beauty shy…”

For Wiles, beauty is something that should be a playful and uplifting experience. One which anyone with any level of knowledge can enjoy. “With Iris, I’ve created a space for both beauty connoisseurs and those who are more beauty shy. Everyone is welcome and we endeavour to meet them where they’re at with their skincare and makeup routine and then help them get to where they would like to be. Beauty should be joyful, so we’ve steered clear of any brand or marketing where people are made to feel “less than” in order to sell a product or treatment.”

Moving forward, Wiles will be focusing on getting the word out about Iris. “Professionally, I’m going to be focused on building up the community around Iris, finding our people and getting the business running smoothly,” she says. As she navigates her new work life with her home life, she will continue to lean on  her close network for support. “I find I hit creative blocks when I’m head down working and fail to spend time with friends and family. Even when I’ve been bone tired during the fit out and set up of Iris I found taking a night off working to have dinner with friends re-energised me and gave me inspiration to push through and keep going.” 

Hannah Wiles, Iris Studio + Beauty Wellington | FQ's Friday Muse

Quick-Fire Questions:

A book that changed my life… Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin – I devoured this book when I was studying makeup artistry. It was enlightening to hear the question “who do you want to be today” applied to makeup when I’d found most of the focus during my study was on ‘fixing’ or concealing people’s features.

Three makeup products I can’t live without are… Concealer, blush and red lipstick. Skin can look like your skin but better with the right concealer, blush gives life to the face and boosts a tired complexion and a red lipstick levels up a simple look.

Skincare products I am always recommending: A hydrating spray for after cleansing and before serums/moisturisers. With modern life most skin needs more hydration, and a spray is a beautiful way to insert a hydrating step before you go in with your big treatment serums. The Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator is my pick as it smells and feels divine after cleansing and has hydrating super powers for skin.

The best restaurant near me… I love Mabel’s on Tory Street for a Burmese feast with amazing friendly service. The Pork Belly Curry is delicious!

The scent I’m wearing most lately is… As we move into Autumn I’m holding onto the last of the summer feels by wearing Sana Jardin’s Jaipur Chant. White florals jasmine and narcisse take me to the tropics and with the addition of tuberose, the harlot of perfumery, the juice becomes a head turner. I’m constantly asked what I’m wearing when I spritz Jaipur Chant.

The item at the top of my wish list… Can an item be a plane ticket to Japan? We were hoping to go back to the Japanese snow in 2020 but Covid happened. I’m one of those people who raves about Japan to anyone who will listen, I love that they queue in an orderly fashion for the train, heat their toilet seats, and the snow is A++.

The best life/career advice I’ve received… ‘Be your own best friend.’ I remember a sage 20-something telling me this when I was young and having friend dramas. I have an amazing circle of friends supporting me now but the reminder to be a friend to myself is still necessary on the daily. More so now in relation to negative self-talk where I’ve turned the motto into “would you speak like that to a friend” when my mind goes into a spin.

I would describe my personal style as… French chic. I love a ruffle, a sparkle, a puffed sleeve but also value pieces that are easy to wear.

If you could work in any other career or have another skill, what would it be and why? There are so many creative things which I’d have loved to pursue but my perfectionist tendencies haven’t allowed me to get through the messy early stages of learning the skill before becoming good at it. Pianist, Fashion Designer, Jewellery Maker…

 

Iris Store + Studio opened in February 2023. All products available to shop online through their website. Those in the Wellington area can also book in for bespoke facials, makeup and brow services. 

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