“Style your career & life, your way.” – Elissa James
IrisLillian.com is a light-hearted webzine founded by Elissa James, a lawyer, writer & entrepreneur based in Hong Kong.
They make the lives and careers of busy professional women, easier by sharing their own (and your) eye-boggling, weird and wonderful 9 to 5 experiences. Together, women can navigate the challenges of their daily working lives, and thrive.
From outsmanrting your boss and getting the pay rise you deserve, to putting a little fashion flair into your workwear; from making that timely career pivot and getting your side-hustle on, to looking after your health: Iris Lillian got you covered.
LadyBoss spoke to Elissa on her career and Iris Lillian!
Q: How long you’ve been doing it, who are your readers on the platform?
A: IrisLillian.com is a light-hearted webzine founded by me, Elissa James. I’m a lawyer, writer & entrepreneur based in Hong Kong.
We take practical view on all things career, fashion and work-life “blend” with the aim to make the lives of working women easier so they can focus on themselves, their families, friends and jobs.
Iris Lillian is also a supportive community for the multitude of ambitious women who want to share insights, celebrate success and have a giggle while they’re at it.
Much like our readers, we seek to elevate other women whenever possible. As part of the Iris Lillian Interview Series we have committed to publishing no less than 50 features showcases leading businesswomen and female entrepreneurs across the globe.
To date, we have featured Anya Hindmarch, Christian Louboutin, Layne Beachley and Chelsy Davy, as well as entrepreneurs and businesswomen in Nepal, Cambodia, Australia, Scotland, United States, England, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Q: Tell us more about your background and how it led you to Iris Lillian?
A: When I was clocking silly hours as a corporate lawyer I often thought to myself “…imagine what I could create if I took my unique skill set and put all my time into something that was my own.” That was the seed, and it grew. My relocation to Hong Kong was the perfect opportunity to test my theory.
As a lawyer, my job is to support the business functions who make stuff happen. As an entrepreneur, it’s me in the driver’s seat, making stuff happen.
Q: What was the inspiration behind Iris Lillian?
A: There is a wealth of real life, on-the-job experience and knowledge that, for whatever reason, women are hesitant to share. This opportunity to motivate, inspire and support each other through content and collaboration was the inspiration behind IrisLillian.com. That’s why our motto is ‘Let’s Chat.’
Q: As a corporate lawyer, what was the Number 1 lesson you learnt as a business leader?
A: In business, when push comes to shove, the only person who will always have your back, is you.
Q: What were the challenges you faced starting the webzine and how do you overcome them?
A: I knew nothing about running a website! My IT skills were woeful and I had probably spent an hour (max) on Instagram in my life. I had to upskill on a raft of new skill sets very, very quickly!
I worked from home for six months and really struggled with the lack of structure in my day and lack of company. I became very good friends with fridge… Eventually, I realized how much more productive I am when there are people around me. I now work from a co-working space and I only catch up with the fridge on weekends.
Q: Where do you see the future of Iris Lillian? Any plans in the near future?
A: We are currently building the IrisLillian.com global team! I had dinner (and some amazing pisco sours) with the London writing crew last month. It was fantastic!
We are also growing our free Facebook Group (Iris Lillian Squad). It is a forum where woman can go to generate ideas, to ask questions and to connect with other impressive businesswomen and female entrepreneurs across a range of industries, at all levels, around the globe.
One of our members recently said that, “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!”
We believe that, together, we can navigate the challenges of our daily working lives, and thrive.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?
A: As a lawyer, my job is to support the business functions who make stuff happen. As an entrepreneur, it’s me in the driver’s seat, making stuff happen.
Q: What are your hopes for women and women in business?
A: One hope is that gender parity is re-framed as a global issue which negatively impacts our economies and society. Rather than an issue which only affects women. With this, I assume we will start to see meaningful change.
Q: Lastly, what is your business philosophy?
A: Iris Lillian’s purpose is to make the lives and careers of busy professional women easier by sharing our own (and others’) eye-boggling, weird and wonderful 9 to 5 experiences. We believe that, together, we can navigate the challenges of our daily working lives, and thrive.