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This Luxury Handbag Company Founder Not Only Turned $5K Into $2.3M In Revenue Within 4 Years But Also Received Beyoncé’s Approval

Founder Wilglory Tanjong has Beyoncé’s attention.

On April 7, 2024, the “Cowboy Carter” singer took to Instagram sharing two posts where she is seen wearing a Willie Nelson T-shirt, platform boots, and a jacket with a print of the American flag. She also accessorized the look with a luxury handbag designed by Tanjong and launched through the founder’s company, Anima Iris. This marks the second time Beyoncé’ has sported the brand since 2021, per CNBC.

“ANIMA IRIS IS BEYONCÉ APPROVED… AGAIN !! Beyoncé really loves Anima Iris, no cap all facts,” Tanjong said on Instagram. “I know y’all will ask so YES, I’m releasing the bag we made just for Bey and I’m naming it the Cowboy Carter ZAZA. Available now on animairis.com…AHHH BEYONCÉ APPROVEDDD.”

While Beyoncé’s interest in Anima Iris is certainly noteworthy, it is also a testament to the labor of love behind Anima Iris, which was born while Tanjong was traveling in Africa for six months, according to CNBC.

When she was a child, Tanjong witnessed both her parents hold various jobs, including running a laundromat and a small cosmetology studio when they moved from Cameroon to Maryland. But she herself initially pursued a traditional career path. She had obtained a full ride to Princeton University and graduated cum laude, despite losing her mother to a battle with cancer in her final year.

Tanjong would then transition from school to working as an operational manager at a manufacturing and supply company in Atlanta, GA, with a salary of $86,000. She also had further financial security having saved $22,000 from working on-campus and through summer internships, as well as inherited $50,000 from her mother.

However, Tanjong was not content in her profession, describing this season in her life to CNBC as “the unhappiest [she] had ever been.”

“I had never really taken a moment to actually slow down to really deal with the passing of the most important person in my life,” she explained to the outlet.

Tanjong would take a step back from the corporate world and traveled to Africa. There she organically connected with entrepreneurs on the continent for the African Hustle series, available on YouTube and Instagram, to amplify how “young people are reshaping the continent in their own way.”

She was further inspired after she connected with artisans in Senegal who were making shoes, jewelry, and handbags. It was at the moment she felt driven to launch a handbag company, but specifically in the luxury industry.

“I realized that there was a significant gap in the market,” Tanjong told CNBC. “Women of color, and specifically Black women, have always been excluded from the luxury narrative. Building a brand that centers these women while also bringing forth African culture into the global landscape was like a bingo moment for me.”

Today, the vision for Anima Iris has materialized in stores through its e-commerce website and Nordstrom’s online stores and flagship locations in Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; Houston, TX; and Miami, FL. It is also available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks ATL, Bloomingdales and Amazon Luxury Stores. Despite this growth, Tanjong still maintains the integrity of her mission and works with artisans in Dakar, Senegal, to make all of her pieces for the brand.

The company’s success is displayed in its numbers. Launched in 2020 using $5,000 from her personal earnings, Tanjong was able to scale the brand to $2.3 million in revenue in four years, her LinkedIn states. This is also credited to social media efforts, which have led to at least 150,000 supporters and a 35% customer return rate.

While Tanjong has managed to grow the company without the help of outside investors, she is now looking for their support. In the midst of raising capital for a seed round, she hopes Beyoncé will be among the individuals to back the company.

“As I enter my second week raising Anima Iris’ seed round, the timing is just incredible,” she wrote on LinkedIn. “We’re already in diligence with a really great firm, but now I’m like, how do I also get Beyoncé to join as an investorrrrr ??? Like my friend said: ‘When Beyoncé wore the bag the first time it’s like, okay, let me support this brand. But wearing it a second time is her saying she loves the brand.’ And Beyoncé girl, I love you too!”



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