It’s one thing to have an excellent paying job on Wall Street, and to be satisfied with corporate America; but it’s a major power move to defy the norm of society, and despite any paycheck and stability, step out on faith and quit your day job to build your own company from the ground up.
Meet Melissa Butler, founder of The Lip Bar. The Lip Bar is a cosmetic company that is uniquely different from any other beauty brand out there. It’s a custom lipstick experience that uses nature’s best ingredients for an all-natural potion that delivers the brightest and most pigmented shades there are!
I was privileged to sit down for a one-on-one chat with Melissa, and I must say, I truly admire the passion and drive she has. Her courage to believe in herself despite the craziness of Corporate America is what set her a part from the majority. Melissa gave Circa 88 and its Lifestyler’s a window to look into her game-changing career; so take a look … here’s what I found out.
C88: Melissa! So glad you were able to sit down with us for a moment, let’s get right to it. If you could, tell us a little about yourself.
MB: I’m from Detroit, I’m 28 officially but next year I’m going to turn 24 (laughs)! I went to school in Tallahassee, Florida… FAM U! Going to that university changed my life for the better… I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit growing up around cousins who own their own businesses; I’ve truly always been around go-getters. I ultimately knew I wanted to do my own thing, but it didn’t come into the works until after I graduated from college.
C88: Tell us about your company, The Lip Bar.
MB: The Lip Bar is a premiere cosmetic experience, I call it an experience because we put so much thought into everything from the packaging, formula, colors, to the experience you actually get when you receive the product at your front door. The reason for it even existing is to break down beauty walls! It’s entirely to tell women there’s no standard of beauty. We’re here to challenge every woman’s thought process.
We grow up with these ideas of what we need to be, especially in the black community. Like, “I need to be this complexion, this weight or my hair should be this texture.” Even with in the natural hair movement (which is awesome) people still want other people’s curls! That mentality fueled The Lip Bar. We exist to empower women to not conform to societies idea of what’s beautiful.
Another face of The Lip Bar is that we believe in responsibly made products. There are a ton of unnecessary chemicals in products today. Not only is it unhealthy for you but it’s also pointless. All of our products have organic Shea butter, organic castor oil, organic avocado oil and more. We try to be as natural as possible without compromising the boldness of the hue. We are truly guilt-free and good looks!
C88: A lot of people aren’t familiar with the method behind your madness; tell us a little about your story, Melissa.
MB: I went to school for business with a concentration in finance. My first thought was I have to work on Wall Street. I worked on Wall Street for about 4 years, but around the 1 ½ year mark I was like, “WHAT!? This is terrible! This is not what I have all these student loans for, to be pushing buttons to make sure that someone else’s business flows.” It wasn’t fulfilling, it wasn’t fun and after a while you’re not even thinking anymore, Corporate America is just a matter of –you learned how to do your task, and you’re risk free with a steady paycheck.
I was bored out of my mind, I wasn’t happy with the state of my life so I changed it. I had to ask myself what was the difference between my friends and I, and the difference was I spent more on quality products like soap! My friends bought packs of Dove soap for less that $5, while I spent $5 on one bar of soap. So I thought, if the soap I buy is so natural and hand crafted, then I can make it myself. As crazy as it sounds, that was the beginning stage of The Lip Bar.
I started making soap as a hobby, and then I decided soap would be my business. I would call it The Soap Bar, with cocktail inspired soaps! This means The Lip Bar is completely stolen from my first idea. So one day after making my soaps I called my supplier for pigments and she asked, “ Are you looking for soap pigments or lipstick pigments?” And it was like a light bulb moment went off in my head! From that moment I did my homework and researched everything I needed to know about this business. For nearly 9 months I made lipsticks in my kitchen … and at the end of February 2012 I launched The Lip Bar.
I’ve never been a makeup junkie, before The Lip Bar I had a ton of lipsticks because I’ve always loved lipstick. I didn’t start The Lip Bar because I was passionate about makeup, I started it because I’m passionate about empowering women, and the beauty industry gave me that platform. I want a woman to feel bold and empowered in my lipsticks.
C88: If you had a chance to start your career again, what would you do differently?
MB: I would have gotten experience from the beauty industry. I would have taken free internships, job opportunities, or studied under beauty mavens. I would have gotten a little more real life experience. It would have helped me capture an audience quicker as well as focus on my brand more. (L To R) Purple Rain, Bourbon Blues, and Cosmo from www.thelipbar.com
C88: Your collections for The Lip Bar are so detailed and creative. What inspired you?
MB: My business background benefited me in this area. The reality is, this is a very saturated market, which means lipsticks are everywhere. What really made my product stand out is by telling a story and selling an experience. Like TOMS (shoe company), you don’t buy shoes from TOMS because they are cute; they’re ugly as hell! But it’s the story, and emotion that comes along with the product; you believe you’re impacting someone else’s life that’s less fortunate than you.
Same thing with Whole Foods, you don’t go in Whole Foods because it’s a cute grocery store, you shop there because it makes you feel like you’re making healthier choices the minute you walk in the door.
With The Lip Bar I decided to base it off of cocktails because coming from the work force, happy hour was the time of the day we all looked forward to. We couldn’t wait to get off of work and let our guard down over a nice cocktail. It was everyone’s escape to those old college days. Naming the lipstick collections after cocktails and punching them with bright colors brings that experience to life within the beauty industry. I wanted people to feel that same happy hour energy in their lipstick.
C88: Being an entrepreneur can be intimidating, how do you manage fear?
MB: Truthfully, everyday is scary but that can be a powerful moment if you allow it to be, especially if tap into your inner peace and pursue your dreams despite your fear. In addition to that you have to find your inner hustle. Just keep doing it, don’t stop. When it doesn’t work, try something different. You have to believe in your brand and even if it doesn’t work, it just means you’re not presenting it right. You can’t get wrapped up in your failures or your successes because both will make you stagnant. Just remember to keep going.
C88: If you could give one word of advice to our Lifestylers, what would it be?
MB: I have two, trust and focus! You really have to trust yourself. Ultimately you have to be passionate about what you are doing and trust your vision or else you’ll begin to follow what everyone else wants for you, then you’ll stop listening to yourself.
And that goes hand-in-hand with Focus. You can’t chase two rabbits at once. You have to pick one thing, be good at it, master it and then move on to your next idea.
C88: What makes you a Lifestyler?
MB: What makes me a Lifestyler is the fact that I don’t get hung up on validation from other people. I constantly strive to find my own inner peace and happiness. That’s my biggest thing in terms of being a Lifestyler.
To stay connected with Melissa Butler and her phenomenal company, The Lip Bar, visit: www.thelipbar.com
Follow The Lip Bar on Instagram: @TheLipBar
Follow Melissa on Instagram: @MelissaRButler