Melissa Butler is the founder of The Lip Bar, a company that truly understands, and emphasizes, that beauty is diverse. The Lip Bar offers natural and affordable lip products in a huge variety of shades - everything from bold pops of color to an impressive array of 17 nudes - so that there is something for every woman, in every price range, without the harmful chemicals often present in cosmetics.
The Lip Bar was born out of Melissa’s own frustrations with a lack of diversity in the beauty industry. When she started The Lip Bar in 2011, there was little to no conversation about inclusion in the beauty industry, and lines with large shade ranges were often laden with chemicals or incredibly expensive. Melissa did not think of herself as a makeup maven or as an entrepreneur, but rather as a consumer who couldn’t find what she needed. As a result, she started experimenting with cosmetic chemistry in her kitchen, and eventually left her job on Wall Street to expand The Lip Bar, first to a food-truck style lipstick truck and now to Target stores all across the country! As evidence of Melissa’s total commitment to the Lip Bar’s core mission of inclusion, she did not accept outside funding until recently. She felt that doing so without being fully prepared for it would force her to compromise. Melissa funded the project largely on her own, by making lifestyle changes like moving from New York City to her hometown of Detroit.
Melissa explains that the cocktail inspired name of the brand and lipstick names like Merlot & Gin-Ger & Tonic come from her goal to help women be unapologetically themselves which is often what happens when you're exposed to alcohol. When asked what advice she has for young founders, she emphasizes having a strong sense of the “why?” If you have a really strong understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing, it gives you the motivation and ability to move forward. She also stresses how important it is to take the time to develop your brand voice and product. Although it’s tempting to jump in at the ideation stage, it’s really worthwhile to do your research because then you can carve out your space and figure out where in the market you belong.