The new beauty concept space offers a carefully curated selection of premium international and local beauty brands, along with expert advice and personalised recommendations.
Makeup artist Hannah Wiles (above) spent years working with major beauty brands both behind the counter and more corporate roles before deciding it was time the capital had more variety in its beauty retail offering.
“As a qualified and experienced makeup artist there are not a lot of spaces in Wellington or even New Zealand that feel in line with the needs of modern consumers who want to interact with beauty in a mindful way, in spaces that feel unique, considered or inspired,” explains Wiles of her intention for the space.
She has chosen the premium mix of brands available at Iris Store & Studio for efficacy and sensoriality, sustainability credentials and transparency of ingredient listings.
Some, like luxury natural organic makeup line Kjaer Weis, and Josh Rosebrook’s science-based natural skincare might be familiar, while others like socially conscious fine fragrance brand Sana Jardin, are completely new to New Zealand. Other services include brow shaping and tinting, lash lifts, lash tints and makeup application.
We asked Hannah about what can be found in the sleek and stylish new space on Victoria Street in Wellington central.
What are you hoping to create or provide with the new store?
It is said that people create businesses for themselves as consumers and being of a certain age, I wanted a warm, welcoming spot to shop for beauty where I was seen. I’m in my mid-forties and had noticed that I’d started to become “the invisible woman”. I don’t often see myself or my Gen X sisters reflected back in advertising or the media, and we are definitely overlooked by staff when shopping for beauty in big brand stores.
Wonder Group (my designers) were genius in creating a long table which runs down the centre of the retail space. It gives us a place to hold workshops and events which are planned as we build our community. It’s also a lovely place to have a cup of tea with a customer while we do a skincare consultation and makes those conversations more comfortable.
I’ve always been someone who keeps an eye on beauty brands and what is going on in the cosmetic world. There is so much noise in the industry, so many brands. And most of them are marketing to women through telling them there is something wrong with their faces, their bodies. I wanted to create a space where people can come and get honest beauty advice from an experienced and passionate team, delivered with kindness and care. And joy! I get so much joy from being in the store and chatting with our customers.
The front window of the store displays some of the key brands on offer.
Do you have any parameters around the types of brands you wanted to offer?
I wanted to give Wellingtonians a chance to experience the fantastic beauty brands that weren’t already stocked in stores here, created by brand founders who have a depth of industry experience and understanding, and are passionate about their customer. The products need to be beautiful to use and effective, they need to do what they say they’ll do. The brands need to be walking a path of sustainability, with transparency around ingredient supply chains, packaging, energy use and their road map for the future.
After researching so many brands I’m also now focusing on brands who market themselves in the positive, rather than those using fear-based marketing tactics. As a consumer, I want to know what is in a product, what it will do for my skin, and how it smells and feels rather than what is not in the INCI list. I think we’ll start to see a turn around to this more positive style of marketing in the next year or so, especially with the new EU cosmetic labelling regulations on the horizon which will put an end to the “no” lists on products.
The welcoming space offers room to sit and learn or trial the skin and makeup brands found in store.
What are some of the highlight brands or products you stock?
I’m such a fangirl of all of our brands. Both Josh Rosebrook and Medik8 have strong followings and Wellingtonians have been so happy to be able to experience them here. Both brands use nature with science to create beautifully textured and scented skincare that really delivers. I’m not a fan of the “beauty is pain” mantra so love that my skin feels nourished and cushioned when I’m using their products.
I spent months hunting down Kjaer Weis so that I could bring this stunning makeup brand to New Zealand. Kristen Kjaer Weis is a makeup artist and really knows skin tones and types so her colours and textures are a dream to apply. The packaging is weighty, an object of beauty and all the products are refillable.
The Lanshin Gua Sha were created by Sandra Lanshin Chiu, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, who is the real deal. She has shaped the gua sha tools to perfectly fit all contours of the face and is so generous with her experience and education, producing a ton of tutorial content for customers on their social media. We’re just ordering in the Jade Scalp Stimulator which is brilliant for massaging and bringing blood flow to the scalp – so many of our customers are talking to us about thinning hair which can be such a blow to one’s self esteem.
Medik8 and Josh Rosebrook are two popular, results-driven skincare brands found in store.
What skincare discoveries are you excited about or enjoying using right now?
This is going to sound terrible coming from a beauty junkie, but retinal is giving me life right now! None of the brands I’ve worked with previously used Vitamin A in the way our brands at Iris do, and it always seemed a little intimidating with its long list of potential side effects and the need to gently introduce it into a routine. So I’m a late adopter. My skin and I are loving both the Medik8 Crystal Retinal and Josh Rosebrook’s Active Infusion Oil, and I’ve seen visible improvement in the evenness and texture of my skin. I make sure to have a luxurious cushioning night cream to use over the top on the nights I’m using Vitamin A – either Medik8’s Advanced Night Restore or Josh Rosebrook’s Vital Balm Cream – to keep my skin plump and happy.
Are there any fragrances that offer something a little surprising or unique?
A lot of our customers who have never liked floral fragrances are enjoying the Sana Jardin florals ‘Savage Jasmine’, ‘Jaipur Chant’ and ‘Revolution de la Fleur’. The white florals (jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, frangipani) that are traditionally very bright and high frequency when created with synthetic molecules become more rounded and have more depth when the natural scent from the flower is used. The indoles create an almost carnal, dirty counter to the sweet floral nectar.
The Vahy range is appealing to customers who complain that natural fragrance doesn’t last on their skin – the scents are formulated with a higher percentage of perfume oil which creates a powerful fragrance with more staying power.
What services are you also providing?
We love makeup lessons and this offering has been very popular. We ask our clients to bring in their makeup bags so we get an idea of what they are using, what they like and don’t like and what they might want to add. Over a 90 minute session we go through a full makeup step by step and the client leaves feeling more confident in their makeup application.
In store imagery: Wellington NZ