By Charise Wallace, Special to the AFRO
Straight from Detroit, Michigan, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar, Melissa Butler went from working on Wall Street to landing her own beauty line in Target, but she wouldn’t be where she’s is if it wasn’t for education and her mother’s tough love.
The Lip Bar, a lipstick line started in 2012 as a mobile food truck-like service that toured from state-to-state, including Washington D.C., to bring the product straight to the consumer. She later faced harsh criticism and rejection on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2015. Fast forward to today, and Target stocks the Black-owned, vegan and cruelty-free brand in more than 140 stores in the U.S.
“It’s a never-ending journey,” Butler to the AFRO. “I’ve been able to learn a lot and adapt really quickly to everything that happens simply because of that skill set that I acquired as a kid.”
The beauty boss grew up in a not so “nice” neighborhood in Detroit with her single mom. “My mom is a big part of who I am,” said Butler. “My mom is tough, she’s just a beast. Sometimes she’s extremely aggressive, sometimes she’s loving, sometimes she’s absolutely crazy.”
Before Butler’s beauty business skyrocketed, she graduated from Florida A&M University in 2008 with a degree in business finance and a desire to make money on Wall Street so she worked at Barclays, the international investment bank.
“It was a complete shift because you go from this environment as having this whole cast of friends that have become your family to essentially being in this environment that’s very stringent…not a lot of people look like you, so it was a tough adjustment,” said Butler.
Butler found herself stuck in corporate America, but she had other plans. “That’s what inspired me to start my own business because I realized that I don’t belong here and I don’t know if I belong in any of these environments,” said Butler.
After Butler switched up her health regime by creating cost-efficient DIY beauty products in her kitchen from soaps to body butter, what stood out the most was the bold lipstick shades.
“It was more-so about my customers and women overall to understand that you don’t have to have chemically-filled cosmetics for them to work and also we don’t have to settle for beauty imagery that looks like one thing we can have it all,” she said.
The Lip Bar’s name stems from the concept of simply walking into your nearby bar with “options.” That same philosophy is what created dozens of lip shades with funky names like “Bawse Lady,” “Cougar,” “MAN EATER,” “Purple Rain,” and “HAUTE MESS” to name a few.
Even D.C.’s own Taraji P. Henson wore nude shade “Baby Bellini“ paired with “Goddess” a shimmery gloss by the brand at Tyler Perry’s “Acrimony” premiere in March.
The cosmetics line is expanding to enlist more than just vibrant lip shades, but facial products while remaining healthy and affordable.
“That’s rare. If you have a company that has dope packaging, dope ingredients, dope imagery often times it’s at a heftier price tag. “We’re betting on the idea that we can serve our customer in every way…essentially giving our customer a reason to not go somewhere else.”