Detroit woman, Melissa Butler, wasn’t always a successful entrepreneur. In fact, the HBCU grad had a career in finance before creating her own lipstick line. While she was working on Wall Street, according to Forbes, she was unhappy and looking for another path in life. Instead of investing her time in someone else’s vision, she decided to invest in herself. Butler shared that she grew up around entrepreneurs and that she knew the importance of diligence and hard work. Combined with Butler’s passion for business and lipsticks, in 2012, The Lip Bar was born. Speaking with Ebony magazine, Butler spoke about her frustrations with Wallstreet and how she developed the idea to create her own lipstick.
It was started out of my frustration with the beauty industry and the frustration with my job. I used to work in Wall Street and I absolutely hated it. I felt like I was just wasting my time and that I didn’t go to school and spend four years in college and take out $50,000 in student loan debt to sit at a computer desk and make someone else money. I said okay I’m going to start a business, but I wasn’t necessarily good at anything and I couldn’t figure out what that business should be. I said okay I’m a product junky. At the time, I was using these very expensive hand-crafted soaps. I thought well if they’re so awesome because they’re hand-crafted and natural then I can make them myself. I started making soap and that was going to be my business. One day I called my supplier and I was looking for pigments. He asked me if it was for soap or for lipstick. I said, ‘Uh, lipstick.’ I had no idea how to make lipstick, but when he said lipstick that was it for me. I got the pigments delivered, I read tons of books and I just started experimenting.
The Lip Bar:
Melissa Butler shared that she began making lipstick in her kitchen because she was unimpressed with the lack of natural lipstick brands. Through her research of the beauty industry, Butler discovered that most lipstick brands were filled with chemicals. Deciding that she wanted to make a change, Butler began creating non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free lipsticks in a variety of colors.
So I started making lipstick in my kitchen for my personal use. After a year of experimenting with ingredients, reading books and playing with color, The Lip Bar was born. In that research period, I found many troubling things about the beauty industry and I thought, ‘Why can’t I be the solution?’ Butler stated to Forbes. I created The Lip Bar to give an alternative to the limited shade range offered by the mass market to allow women to express themselves.
From Rejection To Target:
After launching her business, Butler began creating pop-up shops to allow women the opportunity to try her vegan lip colors. With a dream of having her own mobile makeup truck, Butler and creative director Rosco Spears appeared on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank to pitch the idea of their vegan, gluten-free lipstick along with the idea of having a mobile unit to bring their products to customers. While the investors on Shark Tank decided not to invest in Butler’s company, she didn’t allow that to deter her. Even after the ladies were referred to as colorful cockroaches, the former Wall Street employee followed her dream and created the mobile unit. Butler also started The Lip Bar retail store in Detroit in July 2017. It is the only solo branch of the store. In an interview with Ebony magazine, Butler spoke about her experience on Shark Tank.
It was actually awesome. They were jerks on the show, but you have to remember that it’s TV. It’s literally reality TV. So at a certain point, you have to realize that they’re trying to increase their ratings. We’re pitching for like an hour and then they chop it down to about seven or eight minutes to make good TV, but it was good because it made us run our show a little more tight. It made us validate the reason for existence because they were right. It is a saturated market. But I’m a firm believer that people buy what you believe and not what you sell. At The Lip Bar we believe that beauty shouldn’t compromise health. We believe in wellness and in self expression through beauty. We believe in challenging the standard of beauty. I don’t think that there is another company out there with that message. I think that’s why we stand out in addition to our natural ingredients. It was interesting being on there, but we had to take everything that they said with a grain of salt.
See Melissa Butler And Creative Director Rosco Spears On Shark Tank Below:
Making Money Moves:
While the investors on Shark Tank thought The Lip Bar was a bad idea, Target didn’t. Butler’s beauty brand is now worth nearly close to half a million dollars. Despite the Shark Tank rejection, having the public rejection aired on television helped to improve Butler’s business as people began to take notice.
We really wanted to make sure that we got aired, because not all of the businesses that are pitched get aired, Butler said to the Detroit Free Press. We went on there and we got this really public rejection.
In 2016, Target began selling her products online. On Sunday they launched in stores. The Lip Bar products are now in 42 Target stores in cities including Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and St. Louis. While Shark Tank may have laughed at her idea, Butler is laughing all the way to the bank.
Black Girl Magic!