Anima Iris is a Beyonce-approved handbag company, and the colorful success story of a 25-year-old African-immigrant who refuses to quit. Founded in 2020 by Wilglory Tanjong, the brand has grown from a side hustle to a business that is on track to earn at least $1.2 million in annual revenue.
Tanjong founded the business after taking the time to truly experience the loss of her inspiring and hardworking immigrant mother. A first-generation college graduate, she spent 1 year working as an operational manager with a sizeable $86,000 income at a manufacturing and supply company before accepting she was the “unhappiest [she] had ever been.” While traveling in Africa on a leave of absence, she found inspiration watching local artisans craft handbags, jewelry, and shoes.
She realised there existed a gap in the luxury market because “women of color, and specifically black women, have always been excluded from the luxury narrative.” As a result, Tanjong started Anima Iris, a luxury handbag brand made by women in Africa who she makes sure to pay double the local rate. Anima Iris puts African women at the forefront, celebrates African culture, and expresses Tanjong’s natural sense of style.
After launching in February 2020, the brand has gone from strength to strength. Its first viral moment in June 2020 caused the website to sell out after a Vogue article prompted a blogger to tweet images of the products. The greatest moment for the brand and Tanjong thus far was when it received Beyonce’s approval. The megastar was pictured on Instagram holding her Anima Iris Raspberry Zaza bag.
Anima Iris is projected to earn $5 million next year, and Tanjong is currently supplementing her Princeton degree with an MBA from Wharton in order to learn how to build companies while simultaneously building her own.