Frustrated with the chemical-laden options available at beauty counters, Melissa Butler started making her own lipsticks in her kitchen. The Detroit native and FAMU graduate initially started her career as a stockbroker on Wall Street. Seven years later The Lip Bar is available on the shelves at Target, has a brick-and-mortar store in Detroit and recently debuted its first skin product, Fresh Glow, a bronzer and blush duo.
Tell us more about what inspired you to create The Lip Bar products.
In 2011, everyone was chasing this idea of what it meant to be beautiful. And this idea of beauty wasn’t inclusive of what most of the world looked like. It didn’t include me, my friends or my family. Beauty was being touted as something to achieve not something that was within, and it bothered me to my core. I was downright frustrated with the lack of inclusivity represented in beauty campaigns and the excess amounts of chemicals found in the products we were using. So what I set out to create in 2012 was a company that would be the best of all worlds.
Inclusive, high-quality ingredients, affordable, high-performance, cruelty free, literally, everything. I figured, if nowhere else, your beauty would be validated at The Lip Bar. Seven years later, that’s still why I do what I do.
What sets your brand and products apart from others?
When I started The Lip Bar, it was always my goal to serve the community that has typically been overlooked and ignored. And it’s not just black women. It’s plus-sized women, women of different religious backgrounds, Asian women—basically, any women who didn’t fit into the classic European beauty theology were underserved.
And it has always been my passion to remind them that they are beautiful as is. So when I started The Lip Bar, it was always a goal to break that glass ceiling, to break down that stereotype, to be the change I wanted to see. Our campaigns push boundaries and break “norms.” Through our images, we show women of every color, all ethnicities, shapes, religions, sexual orientations and sizes. We aren’t afraid to break tradition in an attempt to create new normal.
What’s your experience been like as an indie female brand owner?
I’ve gotten quite comfortable with nos, rejection and failures. It’s at the point where I actually enjoy it, because I know there’s learning on the other side. It’s made our triumphs and successful moments that much more special. And it’s allowed us to build a genuine connection with our customers, because most people and brands don’t experience a straight line to their goal. The Lip Bar fans and customers respond to our honesty and appreciate the transparency. It’s relatable, it’s real life.