Emily Riggs’ story is one of triumph over tragedy. From great loss, she founded the Australian fashion brand, Iris & Wool. A company that has grown from strength to strength, turning her childhood dream into a successful reality.
For as long as Emily can remember, she has loved, and found solace in, fashion. When she was only 10 years old, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Then, not long after her diagnosis, her mum sadly passed away from breast cancer – she was just 43. With so much to process at such a young age, Emily turned to fashion. To Emily, it so much more than the clothes she wore. Fashion represented freedom and gave her the opportunity to show off her creativity. It also “allowed others to look beyond the illness,” she reveals. This was when the first seeds of her dream of starting her label were planted...
Fast forward a couple of decades and Emily found love with Tom – a merino sheep farmer. She moved to Burra, South Australia, to live on a farm with over 100,000 acres and 12,000 sheep! Three years and two children later, she launched her designer fashion brand, Iris & Wool.
Since launching in April 2019, the business has grown steadily. Emily believes this is because she uses the best fibre in the world – 100% certified Australian merino wool. It’s renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and breathable – the perfect choice for creating a low-impact fashion label. This is not only important to her, but to her growing customer base. “It really is a super-fibre!” says Emily proudly.
Iris & Wool has now expanded the range from the knits that it’s become famous for to include denim and equestrian wear – which have both proven hugely popular. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Iris & Wool has been getting some major press coverage from the likes of MamaMia’s founder, Mia Freedman, Elle Effect’s Elle Ferguson and Emma Hawkins, co-founder of Homegrown Kids. It has also been featured in publications like Buy From The Bush, Graziher Magazine, Country Style, The Advertiser’s SA Weekend Magazine and SA Life, where Emily appeared on its front cover with her two children.
This is a company with heart and soul. The Iris in the name is in honour of Emily’s mum – it was her favourite flower. The company also donates 5% of all sales to the McGrath Foundation in honour of her. In a world where most companies are only obsessed with profit, Emily’s early loss has ensured she’s built a business based on philanthropy, sustainability and love.