Iris Galerie, a new international based eye artwork concept, is opening three locations in the upcoming months in Ontario.The concept came to Canada this past year and has no plans to slow down as it is planning to open 30 locations within three years.
The concept started in 2021 in Paris after the founder, Emeric Wehbe, was inspired to capture the beauty of eyes during the pandemic as the masks covered everything else. Since opening, Iris Galerie has expanded to over 100 locations worldwide, including four stores in Canada with more coming soon.
Iris Galerie uses state of the art photography to capture the beauty of people’s eyes and create unique artwork and can include up to five different irises. Tanguy Saillant, Country Manager, says they get a variety of people stopping by such as individuals, couples, and families.
“It is a concept that is across cultures and is about love, family, and celebrating everyone. During Covid, the only thing people would really see was the eye because of the mask and so the founder thought there was something very specific about the eye and he thought no one really knew how an eye could be so beautiful. So, he wanted to create specific artwork and that was the beginning of the idea and how the concept started,” says Saillant.
How The Concept Came to Canada
Saillant is originally from France and was living in Canada between 2016 to 2020; however, decided to move back during Covid to be closer to family and worked in the fitness industry. As he knew they would move back to Canada, Saillant was searching for opportunities in Canada and wanted a new adventure – and that is when he found Iris Galerie.
“At the time, I did not know exactly if it was a good concept, but after spending time in Paris and experiencing the store – I quickly realized that the concept is very positive, is easy to sell, the environment is simple and elegant, and it is great to work for this type of brand. So, I made a deal to bring this concept across Canada.”
New Locations and Expansion Plans
Iris Galerie already has four locations in Canada including two in Toronto, one in Quebec City, and a few weeks ago Saillant opened a location in Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. Along with the new opening, Saillant says he is also opening locations within the next few months in Ottawa close to the ByWard Market and in Blue Mountain.
The new location in Ottawa will be opening this month and the location in Blue Mountain will be opening in October. Saillant says most of the stores in Europe are between 400-600 square feet as the concept does not require a lot of space, such as the Toronto Kiosk in the Distillery District which is only 100 square feet.
All locations currently have opened at a fast speed and is not looking to slow down.
“It is growing really fast – we opened in the Distillery District in Toronto on May 3rd, Quebec City on May 26th, Queen Street in Toronto on June 9th, Niagara Falls opened July 18th, and then Ottawa will be opening in August. As for Blue Mountain, we just need to do some renovations and I think we are going to be opening in the middle of October.”
After these openings, Saillant says he is looking to add 30 more locations throughout Canada within the next three years. He will be looking at areas such as Montreal in Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and more places in Ontario, such as Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Currently, Saillant says they have multiple different products they can send, but has many ideas for future innovations for the brand – but is unable to share his ideas just yet.
“People speak about taking pictures of dogs and cats, but I am unsure if we are going to go that way even if it could be a great idea. I think it is in our mind but we also have other stuff we are thinking of but is still confidential. We need to make sure our ideas will stick and something that can be done on site and maybe artwork that will need a specific professional lab.”
How it Works
The whole experience, Saillant says, takes around thirty minutes and is appointment based.
“Taking the picture is very quick, we have a small mirror in the store and people can look at their eyes and the mirror is able to show the Iris ten times more as you see daily. The mirror is used to help people get an idea about their eye and helps decide which eye they would like to use.”
After the picture, the rest of the time is spent on editing the picture and transforming it into artwork. After it is complete, consumers have the option of three different print sizes they can print on site and everything else is done off site and takes around two weeks to be delivered.
As for next steps for the brand, Saillant says he is on the hunt for new locations and encourages people who have open vacancies to connect as he is able to open a store quickly.
“If they think that the concept would be a good fit for their retail area, then it would be great to connect. What is so unique about Iris Galerie is that we can relive the beauty of everyone and be able to create artwork and capture the beauty of the eye.”