'These Pink Lips' Founder Iris Bonner Built a Brand That's Provocatively Empowering

BOSS UP

Upon graduating from Arcadia University with a Bachelor's in graphic design and taking on a job in her rightful field, Iris "Barbee" Bonner felt creatively stifled by the restraints and rules that are attached to the 9-5 life.


With full faith in her path and the willingness to manifest her destiny, she knew a "normal" career path wasn't for her, and called her corporate lifestyle quits in pursuit of her passion. Later, Iris became known as the artist behind the vivacious brand, These Pink Lips.

These Pink Lips has been worn by a number of celebrities including but not limited to Mary J. Blige and Cardi B., whose large personalities complement the brand and their shared mission to empower women.

As I walk the halls ready to enter this palace of pussy that I've stalked via Barbee's Instagram account, I'm almost immediately greeted by the provocative writing on the wall that screams, "pussy garden," confirming one thing, and one thing only: We. Had. Arrived.

The brand made its debut in 2012 at the Black Light District Showcase, but the concept was born long before then.

Iris told xoNecole that her artistry dates back all the way back to kindergarten. The young creative went on record in her 8th grade yearbook saying she would be fashion designer and artist, proving that even during childhood, she was hip to the power of manifestation. She later began sketching voluptuous women in skin-clad clothes who are otherwise hypersexualized by society, which would turn out to be the foundation for her business.

Some of the brand's mantras include: "Pussy not war," "pussy power," "goaldigger," and many more proclamations from the soft-spoken Bonner, which all aim to prove that our sexuality cannot be characterized by an outward appearance or persona. Through the brand, she hopes to evoke confidence in women and men alike without regard to societal rules.

Warned against naming her brand 'Pussy' during its inception, Iris displays the type of faith that affirms she would've been successful regardless of her company name.

Through the pursuit of her passion, one thing is undeniable: Iris has built a brand with her identity at its core and little regard to the opinion of naysayers or conformist.

She and her body of pussy prints march to the beat of their own drum.

Despite her normally reserved nature, having an edgy, provocative brand has helped nudge her extroverted side to the forefront a bit more as she navigates press, networking, and growing interest in her art and fashion. However, that doesn't stop people from drawing their own conclusions on who and what Iris and her work represents.

"People look at my work and they're like 'oh this girl is crazy.' And, I am ... a little bit, but you have to get to know me. I go out and people expect this 'AHH!' and I'll be like 'I'm still a little shy.'"

Being the only black woman in many places, Iris cites judgment as one of the most challenging parts of her work -- finding that, "People [are] judging or people [are] not really paying attention to the work. They're only looking at one word or one painting without knowing. I don't expect everyone to get it. I just let my work speak for itself."

"This art is supposed to be a way of me expressing myself, so if I'm not even able to express myself and do the things I like then what's the point?"

Certainly you, my fellow girl bosses, have heard "your vibe attracts your tribe" before and this seems to be a philosophy that Iris effortlessly lives by. This is only made more evident as she recalls the excitement she felt garnering celebrity attention, and the day Cardi B. chose These Pink Lips to pull her wardrobe from. She exclaims how perfect she feels the femme-c was and still is for a brand that shamelessly embodies feminism at its finest.

"It feels good, but most of those relationships happened so organically. Like, Cardi B. I think she's the perfect person for the brand."

Cardi B. rocking These Pink Lips

Other notable entertainers being draped in pussy power include everyone from Amber Rose, Remy Ma, and Missy Elliot, to PINK!.

Despite the obvious excitement that comes with gaining celebrity attention, Iris modestly explains that while celebrity recognition is great, the "everyday people" who have been "rockin'" with her are equally appreciated and thrilling. She maintains a humbleness that is critical to maintaining momentum and success, yet a quality that is frequently M.I.A. as she thoughtfully acknowledges, "They really believe in me." And, that we do!

In addition to believing in the vision, the goal, and the brand, there's also so much we can take away from Iris Bonner and her ever-growing movement. The young creative had this message for budding girl bosses:

"Before Instagram, before any of that, I'm Iris and I would still be doing this. You gotta be passionate, original, and true to yourself."

Hold onto that with your faith in tact and a desire to manifest all that's yours and you shall receive it.

Sign up today and be the first to get notified on new updates, exclusive events, retreats and giveaways!

More Posts

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

Can women have it all? Undoubtedly, there have been many attempts to answer this question over the years, most with a mournful no. But with just one glimpse into the life of plus-size blogger and beauty/style influencer Rochelle Johnson, the answer it would seem should be a resounding yes. A doting husband, beautiful toddler, AND a booming career? She holds the trifecta of a life well lived and fulfilled. And if you aren't familiar with her brand, you definitely should be.

Keep reading... Show less

Last May, I took a trip to Cancun with a few friends, some old and some new, where every morning I was awakened by my roommate around 7 am, talking loudly on the phone.

Keep reading... Show less

It's been a few months since that vision board party where you and your friends vowed to manifest the lives you know you deserve. Everyone brought some food, drinks and old magazines. As you cut out images that represent your deep desires and pasted it to a large cardboard, you became excited about the possibilities for this year.

Keep reading... Show less

With the questions of down payments, closing costs, and how much home can you afford, it might seem daunting to step out of your comfort zone and purchase your first home. Especially as a single woman. But it is most definitely something that can be done.

Keep reading... Show less

Dear Queen is a series dedicated to letters from women written for themselves and other women. Have a "Dear Queen" letter? We want to read it! E-mail your letters to submissions@xonecole.com with the subject: Dear Queen.

To the woman who struggles to celebrate herself:

I see you.

Keep reading... Show less

As boss and career women, we often don't realize how we can sometimes be our worst enemies when it comes to putting ourselves in the running for life-changing experiences.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts