Iris Mae deShield was born to Thomas and Annie Jones Phillips. She received her early education from Ms. Edith Crawford and Rufus J Stovell. Iris had the desire to go into the nursing field but her parents had other plans for her. They were in the Tailoring and Dressing Making Industry, and needed her to help them run their business. She obediently followed their lead and became gifted in the art of tailoring and professional designing. She studied for several years under the guidance of her father and developed the skills required for her creative craft which was “good workmanship, accuracy, and attention to detail.” Iris was recognized for her abilities and this was demonstrated at the Woman’s Shop (now known as Gibbons Company ) where she supervised the designing of garments for the display window for several years. She continued to develop her skills in her profession and soon opened her own business known as the Fashion House on Church Street. She was able to hire three assistants and her business thrived. She created many fashions for prominent people among them Mrs. Sheila Leather the wife of the serving governor at that time Sir Edward Leather.
In 1938 she married George Arthur deShield, and of this union had three sons. After some years Iris ventured into the teaching field and began that career at the Girls Institute where she remained for several years making the students blazers and teaching tailoring. She moved on to Prospect School for Girls and later to Sandy’s Secondary School where she instituted a new class room to teach sewing. The students were taught to make designer garments, pillowcases, and other arts and craft projects which were later displayed for purchase. She enlisted the services of inmates to make her some cutting tables. While at Sandy’s Secondary she was instrumental in developing a charm school course, the first in a secondary school it was a venture that became very successful. Upon retirement from the school Iris used her talent in many ways and in 1966 she presented “Extravaganza of Style” for stout women creating one of a kind garments. She was later hired to make shrouds for the deceased at Cecil Frith’s Funeral Home on Ewing Street. She took a course in Millinery and received a Diploma from the Academy of Millinery Design, qualifying her as a professional Custom Millinery. Iris was very much involved in church and she became a stanch member of St. Paul A.M.E. on Victoria and Court Streets. She was active in the Senior Choir, Steward Board, and Missionary Society. She was elected to the office of Conference Branch President. She gave of herself to her community serving as Chaplin of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, member of the Sunshine League, President of the Socratic Literary Club, President of the Gay Nineties Club , Secretary of the Sunshine Garden Club, a life member of the Bermuda Garden Club a member of National Trust Tree Committee. She was a founding member and President of the Fellowship Circle, a founding member of the ladies Auxiliary of the Matilda Smith Williams Senior Residence. She was also an active member of the Star of Warwick Lodge N0.3 and a member of the Commission of Charities. Iris hobbies included travelling, gardening, singing and poetry. Iris had a lovely quote centered around her life. “Sewing is my life, take sewing from me and my work is done. Well done church sister your living was not in vain.