I’m Iris Maree, owner and founder of studio IRIS MAREE. I launched my cruelty free brand in 2012 because I wanted to prove that it was possible to create high quality vegan luxury bags without animals suffering for it.
I’ve been passionate about the wellbeing of animals throughout my whole life. I was a typical 80’s child, the era when people finally became more conscious of all the harmful things we did to animals. Especially fur was an important topic these days. When I was a young girl, I already protested the killing of seals just for their fur. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that people were actually harming animals just to look good, and I still can’t.
Traveling and my first job
When I was 18 years old, I moved to Amsterdam to study Arts, Culture & Management. I loved the city but my actual dream was to travel the world, so I did. I ended up staying in Brazil and became the owner of a beach bar for a while. But Amsterdam was calling and once back, I started working for a company in merchandise articles. I was responsible for both design and the production process for international publishing houses, fashion and cosmetic brands.
“I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that people were actually harming animals just to look good, and I still can’t.”
Doing things differently
In this job I got the chance to travel the world again. Visiting all these different countries was an amazing experience, but I also got to see the negative side of mass production and the heavy use of leather. I wanted to do things differently. So, I decided to quit and start my own cruelty free marketing and merchandise business.
Why? Because I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I believed it was pure madness to kill animals for fashion products. Moreover, steering away from mass production, I was convinced that creating fashion was possible in a more conscious way.
My company quickly grew into a successful business. My clients were international magazines such as VOGUE, ELLE and MARIE CLAIRE. Working closely with brands like Sonia Rykiel and Isabel Marant, I learned the more refined work of designing bags and garments. I realized that I loved designing bags and a seed was planted to start my own brand.
Following my dream: designing and creating vegan bags
In 2012 I finally dared to really follow my heart and launched my namesake vegan brand studio IRIS MAREE. In my studio in Amsterdam I create luxury vegan handbags made of animal friendly leather (see also: what is vegan leather). As a designer, I love to use pure lines and striking colours. All my bags have a good dose of Amsterdam sassiness.
Studio IRIS MAREE is my absolute passion. I love the thrill of designing a beautiful bag while at the same time contributing to a better world. Some people who buy my bags, don’t even notice that the bags aren’t made of real leather. Showing the world that it’s possible to create luxury fashion without animals suffering for it, that’s my mission.
“I love the thrill of designing a beautiful bag while at the same time contributing to a better world.”