When Melissa Butler’s passion to create a more purposeful career called, she found herself exiting Wall Street and entering her kitchen where she cooked up a recipe for lipstick—which undoubtedly became her formula for success. Butler had a vision to inspire women through beauty products and after many attempts at making lipstick in her New York apartment, she created The Lip Bar.
Fast forward six years, Butler now owns The Lip Bar flagship store in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, after launching as an e-commerce business in 2013.
As a CEO, Butler has had her fair share of business lessons—and she attributes one of the biggest “no’s” she received after pitching on the hit TV show Shark Tank to pushing her to go harder for her company. She says the company is valued at $7 million and her products are being sold at 450 Target stores in addition to other major retailers.
With all of her success, Butler says that her self-care, customer service, and being knowledgeable about her industry contribute to her success and staying power.
“For me, my self-care is really just making sure that I do things that fill me up and doing things that I’m passionate about. I couldn’t do The Lip Bar six years in if it were just about makeup because I don’t care about makeup. I’m here so that little girls growing up will know that they are beautiful and know that they are enough. And so that’s my form of self-care,” says Butler.
Building community and not seeing black women within the industry as healthy competition has also been critical for her.
“I’ve made really great friends with black-owned beauty founders. In group chats we’re sharing information—because at the end of the day we all have the same struggles, but, we can’t all serve the same customer. What Beauty Bakerie, The Crayon Case, and AJ Crimson do are all very different for our customer. And that’s why our customers shop with us,” she adds.
Being her own customer has also allowed her to connect with consumers. “We speak the same language of the customer and we understand their needs. Because at the end of the day, we’re walking that same walk, we know what it feels like to not have a new lipstick that works for your complexion,” says Butler. That is why she is intentional about being inclusive of women of all shapes, shades, and features in her marketing.
The Lip Bar is a go-to beauty brand for many women and as a businesswoman, Butler remains at the top of her game to produce top-tier cosmetics.