Iris & Romeo raises $5 million with latest seed funding [Glossy]


The funding round, announced Thursday, coincides with the appointment of Tara Desai as CEO. Desai joins from The Estée Lauder Companies where she was the executive director of online strategy. Michelle Gough-Baril, founder of Iris & Romeo, will remain in creative and product development roles. The funding itself will be directed toward marketing and hiring, including of a social media manager. Previously, the 3-year-old brand raised $2 million in funding in June 2021, bringing its total now to $5 million including previous friends-and-family contributions. BrandProject, which led the June 2021 funding round, also led the latest round.

“Step No. 1 is unlocking this brand’s vision in a way that reaches more consumers. How do we get more eyeballs on this brand? How do we spread the word in an efficient way?” said Desai. “[The] emotional connection with your consumer — that is going to set you apart. A brand that makes me look good but also feel [good] is one where it’s supporting a bigger mission.”

Iris & Romeo subscribes to a clean beauty philosophy, and as Gough-Baril describes it, a tightly curated assortment of products. Iris & Romeo also supports social issues important to women. For example, it supports reproductive rights on social media through its partnership with Every Mother Counts. In addition, in 2020, the brand partnered with nonpartisan organization I Am A Voter to encourage women to vote. Its core customers are women between the ages of 30-50 and those looking for multifunctional products. The brand’s hero product, Best Skin Days, combines a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Iris & Romeo’s latest product, Weekend Skin, launched in May and is a combination of vitamin C and SPF 50.

Desai said Iris & Romeo will focus on direct marketing including email, SEO, paid social and affiliate marketing. Her goal is to grow revenue by 300% year-over-year in 2022 and gear up for a Series A fundraise by end of 2023. Iris & Romeo also aims to expand beyond DTC with a retailer in 2023. Gough-Baril’s said she’s focused on three additional product launches in 2022 and additional undisclosed category expansions in 2023.

According to previous Glossy reporting, Iris & Romeo earned 55% of its revenue from unpaid efforts between 2020 and the first half of 2021. Its biggest social channels are Instagram and Facebook.

“[Iris & Romeo is] about making women feel good emotionally, spiritually and physically, on every level,” said Gough-Baril. “[Customer] demand is only going to become higher for [product] performance and multitasking products.”