Beauty

Learn How She Took Her Love of Cocktails & Lipstick & Turned Them Into A $500,000 Profit

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BY: NISHA THOMAS

Melissa Butler not only calls herself the mixologist, she also calls the shots and you won’t be able to find her signature cocktails in any bar near you. Her love of crafty “cocktailing” all began in her kitchen back in 2010, and the rest was history.

Developing her talent into a full-fledged beauty business only two years later, this was what allowed her to merge her love for the beauty industry with her passion of making an amazing drink or two.

The 30-year-old Detroit-native and business-savy mogul is the founder of The Lip Bar — which is a line of brightly colored lipsticks ranging from mandarin orange to kamikaze blue. This brand, which has blossomed immensely in it’s own popularity, was only brought to the massive attention of the World Wide Web just last year when Butler had the opportunity to take on “Shark Tank.”

The reps of the colorful lipstick brand were, unfortunately, booted from the show, but that didn’t stop them from getting their shine on.

Rejection allowed them to get back up, prosper, grow and thrive through their own belief in the true destiny of the company that she’d worked so hard to bring to the forefront.

Thanks to her exposure on the show, however, the cosmetic line, which is made from nothing but natural ingredients, has taken in a whopping half-million dollars. And the business continues to boom as Butler works daily to breathe life into her product.

Get to know more about The Lip Bar and owner, Melissa Butler, below:

What year was The Lip Bar founded?

The Lip Bar was born in 2012 Brooklyn, NY. It was there that I began making lipsticks in my kitchen.

What inspired you to launch your business?

It’s common for most beauty brands to start because of someone’s love for makeup. I started The Lip Bar because I was frustrated with the beauty industry. I hated that most cosmetics were filled with unnecessary chemicals. I hated that lipstick came in a very limited color range. I hated the struggle to find nude lips that didn’t make me look ashy. So I started making lipstick in my kitchen in 2011 for personal use, and the brand developed around the need for women everywhere to have responsibly-made products that worked for all skin tones. When we launched in 2012, I was working on Wall Street; fast forward four years later, we’re sold on Target.com. And while so much has changed about the brand, we are still catering to that underserved community of women and fighting for their representation in the beauty world.

What makes your brand/product unique?

I always tell people you can buy lipstick anywhere from the drugstore to the department store. But The Lip Bar is more than a just a product. We exist to challenge the standard of beauty through our vegan and natural ingredients, affordable pricing, beautiful packaging and diverse imagery. At The Lip Bar, we tell a story of inclusion, and our products and everything we do reaffirm the idea that beauty is not linear. No matter what shape, size, complexion or hair texture, you deserve representation. So we make sure we use models that depict a different image than the average beauty brand. Our products simply support our belief that every complexion is beautiful and that you shouldn’t have to compromise your health for beauty.

Why should everyone #buyblack this holiday season?

Because group economics is one of the only things that will save our community. When you support a black-owned business, you are supporting a family, an education, a neighborhood. So I say don’t just support because it’s the holiday and don’t support just because it’s black. Support because the livelihood of your family and your grandchildren’s family depends on it. There is power in our numbers, but we can’t tap into that power until we come together. The Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn are a great example of group economics. They have their own grocery stores, banks, hardware stores, etc. When you create this sort of community, the ability for others to come in and capitalize, appropriate or even recklessly police us is lessened greatly.

How do you pay it forward within your community?

Everything we do at The Lip Bar is about empowering women to be their best selves. We give representation to the underserved so that every girl has the privilege of being socially accepted as beautiful. And in my free time, I mentor young women in the inner city of Detroit (my hometown) to show them that they are better than their surroundings and to prove that they don’t have to be a product of their environment.

What is your business mantra?

Remember why you started and never stop! Owning a business is tough, and it is easy to fall prey to worrying about the money and the growth that you start changing your business so much that you find yourself fully lost on its initial purpose. But if you are truly filling a need, use that as your foundation, know it will be hard, and never stop fighting for what you believe in. Your business will eventually compensate you for your determination.

Kimberly Wilson is a writer and social media director at theGrio. Follow her on Twitter.

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