Melissa Butler was tired of paying way too much for beauty products that were made with dangerous products and didn’t consider people of color. While working on Wall Street, she used her down time to develop vegan lip shades in her Brooklyn kitchen. And in 2012, The Lip Bar was born.
In 2015, Butler took her products to ABC’s cut throat business reality competition series, Shark Tank, looking for an investment from one of the famous financiers. She left her episode without a deal, but it only fueled her desire to keep hustling. And soon, the business world began to take notice of Butler and her beautifully bold lip shades. The Lip Bar products are available at the TLB flagship store in Detroit and in Target and Walmart stores across the country. And in 2020, Butler was named one of Inc’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs.
The Root caught up with The Lip Bar CEO Melissa Butler to find out what she learned from her time in the Tank and how she’s planning for the continued growth of her home-grown business.
These days, Butler’s line is more than just lip colors, and includes products for the eyes and face, including the 2020 Allure Best of Beauty winner, 2-in-1 Powder Bronzer + Blush Duo. Everything is 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free and made with non-toxic ingredients you can feel good about putting on your skin.
“The Shark Tank experience taught me to be open to failure and receiving advice, while being confident in my own abilities,” Butler said. “At that time, I knew the investors weren’t the customers I was targeting - and being the rebel that I am - it made me proud to double down on my mission to continuously aim to challenge the beauty standard.”
Butler was right to bet on herself. And others are jumping on board. On October 3, the company announced it had raised $6.7 million to expand the brand led by Pendulum, an investing and advisory platform designed for founders of color.
“I have always stayed true to my vision and continue to create vegan, vibrant, fast face essentials for women of any complexion. It’s about trusting your instincts,” she said. “Ten years later, we are still aiming at this North Star, and I’m still betting on myself (and my team).”
Looking ahead, Butler says she wants to continue creating simple, inclusive cosmetics her customers know and love.
“We plan to continue to drive our innovation forward to create beauty solutions that allow everyone to experience effortless essentials that empower confidence while impacting the needs of underrepresented communities,” she said.
If you want to get your hands on some TLB products of your own, there’s no better time than this weekend, during their Big Scary Savings Promotion going on through October 31, where select lip products will be on sale on The Lip Bar web site for $5. Don’t sleep on this one. I promise you, this stuff won’t last long.