How Melissa Butler Went From Reject to Beauty Industry Royalty

Jeneba Wint

How Melissa Butler Went From Reject to Beauty Industry Royalty

Women’s History Month 2018  is in full effect and Melissa Butler is making her own history. She is celebrating six years of challenging the beauty standard with her brand The Lip Bar and with the launch of her brand in 44 Target Stores across the country. If you’ve been under a rock and never heard of The Lip Bar or the mixologist behind the brand, you may have heard of when she was publicly shamed and discouraged on national television as an entrepreneurial hopeful on Shark Tank. Decorated businessman and Shark Tank veteran, Kevin O’Leary told her that her paraben-free, highly pigmented, high quality, vegan makeup was clown makeup and that she looked like a “colorful cockroach”.  Ouch! All the sharks said, “ I’m out”, but Melissa was not the one to be defeated and turned her rejection into relevance. We celebrate Melissa Butler, her half-a-million dollar business this Women’s History Month, by sharing her story and highlighting her achievements.

How the lip bar got started

Melissa started The Lip Bar out of frustration with the lack of options that showed the diversity of all women in the beauty aisle. Although the beauty industry is saturated with new brands popping up every day, Melissa was still confident that she could create a high-quality product that would support her mission of making all women feel beautiful without settling for less or changing who they are. She then started her research and began making lipsticks in her kitchen, blending various pigments and natural ingredients until she got her formulas just right. Her first customers were her family friends. well enough to start selling to family and friends. The major key here is that she turned frustration into a solution all based on an idea, passion and a childhood love of lipstick. She never started The Lip Bar out of a love for makeup, but instead out of a love for pursuing a challenge to change the beauty industry and beauty norms.

Why what she is doing is super important

The Lip Bar is disrupting the beauty industry one lipstick at a time, as one of the only vegan, all-natural lipstick lines that are fueled by both a corporate and social responsibility. The brand is inclusive of all women but also gives dark-skinned women a chance to see themselves. Melissa is a cheerleader for diversity and has created an opportunity for women of color through her campaigns and empowering messages.

Melissa knew that the Lip Bar wasn’t for everyone, but she knew that there was a gap in the market that could be filled. She knew that there are women out there that needed to see themselves represented through diverse imagery and want to have natural, organic, and vegan products.

How melissa overcame rejection

Melissa may have been rejected in front of thousands of people on national television, but she feels like it was more of a setup than a setback. Going on Shark Tank was a marketing strategy for The Lip Bar and wasn’t necessarily about the investment dollars. Melissa knew that if she was likable and entertaining the producers would air her episode and whether she got a deal or not, thousands of people would see her brand without her spending a dime on ads and marketing. Turns out that she was right. The producers ended up airing the episode and to date it as aired over ten times and have been seen by over seven million people.

After the big rejection from all the sharks on the show, Melissa and her team started promoting the video all over social media and even put it on their website. She owned the moment and stood in her truth, reminding herself of why she started this venture and her overall mission and vision.  She capitalized on the rejection instead of letting it stop her. Melissa built from the momentum and used it as an advantage. The night the episode aired, The Lip Bar website received 30,000 hits; the most hits than it ever had. As a result, the company received over 500 orders in one night. The momentum and marketing of the episode attracted big retailers like Nasty Gal and Friends Beauty. Melissa believes that rejection is what took her business to the next level and has allowed her to grow. Instead of regretting the Shark Tank experience, she is forever grateful to Shark Tank for changing her career.

The advice she wants everyone to know

In college, Melissa was a finance major and once worked as a licensed broker on Wall Street, but after working at Barclays she realized she absolutely hated going to work every day. Melissa isn’t one to settle, so instead of complaining, she decided to start a side hustle that grew into what is now The Lip Bar.

Melissa knew that she could create her own lane. She was confident that she could be successful in a new business because she was successful in her career and school and believed in her track record for success.  Melissa is a big advocate for “creating your own lane and writing your own story, believing that no one should be creating your narrative for you”. She wants people to know that you can always learn something new, evolve, and create big change in your life.


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IG: @hauteandstyled



How Melissa Butler Went From Reject to Beauty Industry Royalty