Vamp Taste Makers: Iris Lillian

An interview about the empowering force of freelance
Woman in white top and black long skirt

Elissa James

Entrepreneur | Founder of @irislillian

Vamp Collective Member

Describe the core message of Iris Lillian in 3 words or less

Let’s chat.

 How do you keep your Instagram followers engaged?

I keep my content as light-hearted and crisp as possible. This is because people often go to Instagram to escape: you don’t want to burst that delightful day dream you have created with a dose of cold hard reality or a blurry shot.

Instagram is a commitment. I think of it as a Tamagotchi: you have to tend to regularly.

What golden rules do you follow when building your Instagram feed?

Be consistent with your posts. This means posting at regular intervals and keeping the aesthetic and voice the same across your images. If you’re starting out, try out a few different ‘looks’ and monitor the response.

Instagram is a commitment. I think of it as a Tamagotchi: you have to tend to regularly. At one point, I was on Instagram every half an hour and, occasionally, I find myself up at 3am publishing a post because my followers are in a different time zone. There are apps you can use which automatically post for you but I’m not 100% sure how they affect the algorithm.

Just as you respond to all emails in your inbox (save for SPAM) do the same with your comments. This also helps to build trust with your followers.

Hashtags are important but Instagram seems to be having a few issues with these at the moment so don’t overly rely on them.

Who are the Iris Lillian Squad? 

The Iris Lillian Squad are savvy, urban working women from across the globe. Women who want to optimize their time so they can progress their careers, focus on their health, laugh and be great friends, mothers, wives, girlfriends and bosses.

How can a community, like the Iris Lillian squad, help creatives and entrepreneurs to grow? 

The Iris Lillian Squad, is made up of an impressive group of highly talented and experienced women from a vast range of industries, each open to helping you and your venture succeed. Entrepreneurs and creatives can use the forum to share their experiences, their insights, ask questions and seek support from the other Squad members. For those who might like to keep their query anonymous, they can shoot an email directly to us at

Iris Lillian is a great community to go to touch base – even if for just five minutes during lunch – to remind myself that other women are still out there (my work group is almost entirely male), that it’s OK to want to achieve as a woman and that it’s OK to be a woman!” – Iris Lillian Squad member

Elissa James with Anya Hindmarch

Our Interview Series is also a great resource for creatives and entrepreneurs to go to for tips from the leading entrepreneurs and CEOs around the globe. To date, I have interviewed some truly impressive trailblazers from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Nepal, Cambodia, China, UK, US, and Singapore who are working in industries from fashion and tech to finance, journalism, and social enterprise.

These individuals are at the top of their game and offer fantastic, practical advice for women who are ready to take that leap of faith and start their own venture.


Elissa James with Christian Louboutin

For example, Anya Hindmarch offered fantastic advice to our readers looking to break into business. She said “As you leave the office at night, fire yourself mentally and come back the next day as your successor.”

When I chatted with Christian Louboutin, he said that “Deciding what to do and sticking to it will narrow your vision. But, if you let yourself go, you end up having a much richer experience.”

How might the new avenues for employment in today’s gig/freelance economy open up new opportunities for women?

Right now, the traditional corporate structure doesn’t make it easy for women to thrive: there are still institutional and cultural roadblocks to career progression. Enabled by the increasingly gig/freelance economy, women are leaving the corporate world in droves and setting up their own businesses. It’s fantastic to see women taking control of their destinies. These new avenues are perfect for women to create the working environment and structure that best suits their lives. It’s an empowering prospect.

What editing apps do you use? What camera do you use?

I use a Nikon D610 with a 50mm lens – this is a great lens to use if you’re a new photographer. It forces you to move around (a lot) to get the perfect shot. As far as editing apps, I use VSCO, PicFrame and Snapseed.

Who inspires you?

My very first job out of University was working for a senior judge. She is highly intelligent and kind. She is also unapologetically feminine, despite the male-dominated legal system and judiciary. She is a true pioneer paving the way for women in her field. For this, I am truly grateful.

What are the big dreams for Iris Lillian? 

We have so many exciting things in the pipeline! We will soon launch our Podcast Series – a chilled and frank conversation between me and a great friend about overcoming the hurdles faced by women in the workplace, as well as the struggles of establishing a start-up.

What are the biggest challenges of Iris Lillian? 

Keeping all the balls in the air necessary to run a website.  I’m on the lookout for a full time partner, but until I find one, I’m certainly giving the octopus impression a good crack by juggling all aspects of the business myself. From marketing to IT, SEO to content creation and photography. I’m across Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and drafting regular newsletters with exclusive content for our readers. Sometimes, I sleep.

What are the best things that have come about thanks to Iris Lillian? 

Personally, I have met and interviewed some extraordinary people. Really extraordinary.

More broadly, the dialogue we are encouraging at Iris Lillian is bringing women out of their ‘silos’. We are coming together and talking about those issues we previously thought were unique to us, individually. This is amazing! If you’re going through something or feeling a certain way, odds are someone has been there before. So, why re-invent the wheel? Let’s chat.


Right now I’m… 

Listening to: Beyonce (always) and John Legend

Eating: Soo many boiled eggs (and the occasional croissant): I’m on a health kick.

Drinking: Not enough water.

Wearing: Paddo to Palmy, Sandro, Grana and COS.

Watching: The Americans. Just, wow.

Reading: Hong Kong by Jan Morris


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