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“I’d like to start a movement for us all to stop faking, no one is perfect” With Melissa Butler, CEO of The Lip Bar

If I could inspire a movement It would be to encourage transparency. I want us all to stop faking. We don’t all have it together. No one…


If I could inspire a movement It would be to encourage transparency. I want us all to stop faking. We don’t all have it together. No one is perfect. No one is always happy. And truthfully, we’re all after the same things. Love, respect and being valued. Men too! Women deal with this a bit more, but men could really use a gentle reminder that they don’t have to have everything together by a certain  age.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar. The financier-turned-entrepreneur started The Lip Bar in 2012 out of the frustration with the beauty industry for putting unnecessary chemicals in makeup with a limited color range in lipstick, and the linear depiction of beauty many customers could not compare too. Flash forward several years after facing rejection on Shark Tank and taking her products on a cross country road trip to reach new consumers, The Lip Bar has come to represent more than quality products at an affordable price; the makeup company offers a platform for inclusion The Lip Bar is now sold in over 450 Target retailers nationwide.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I remember reading the backs of products I was currently using and wondering “what the heck is this ingredient and what does it do?” My curiosity spurred into frustration as I realized most makeup was filled with unnecessary chemicals and simply didn’t serve the wide variety of complexions humans come in. I realized the beauty industry was telling a very linear story of what beauty was and falsifying this idea that beauty was something to be created instead of already had. My revelations got me to making lipstick in my kitchen while working on Wall Street to challenge the beauty standard and I haven’t looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I’m not sure of the most interesting story of my business. Every day is different. Every day is a new triumph or challenge and I treat them all equally as there’s value in seeing the growth from the victories and lessons. I’ve found an immense amount of appreciation of the process. The Lip Bar is 6 years old. My days have not always been glorious, at times we’ve experienced through the roof sales at other times other times not so much. But what I will say is its all been interesting because you don’t know what will happen next. Forest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates…. Well, I guess business is too.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started making lipstick in my kitchen, I had complete disasters with materials negatively reacting one another or not even getting my first container shipment of china and realizing, wait I have no idea how to import into the USA. One day, I allowed my double boiling situation to sit a little too long and the glass burst sending pigment in a projectile pattern all across my kitchen. I learned to not walk away while brewing the batch and also that Iron Oxides are difficult to clean from grout. Especially when it’s white.


What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Most cosmetic companies are trying to sell you on how to achieve beauty. We remind people that they are already beautiful and that makeup can be used to enhance and or refresh, but it’s certainly not the basis of beauty. The Lip Bar is a beauty brand that exists to disrupt traditional beauty ideals by focusing on our beliefs to guide the products we produce, imagery we create and price point we sell at. We believe beauty isn’t linear, so we produce diverse imagery to showcase universal beauty. Because of this, while at trade shows we get women who come up to us all the time and thank of for giving them the representation that they never see. We want people to know that if their beauty is validated nowhere else, it is respected, protected and praised at The Lip Bar.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re working on a ton of new products. For the last 6 years, we’ve only had lip, so an expansion beyond that product type is insane for us.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Encourage failure! I always say I’d rather fail fast than die slow. But that’s an owners mentality. So I’d recommend giving the same power to your team by encouraging them try things and be innovative. You never know what new development can come from collecting the lessons learned from those experiences.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Practice empathy and try to learn what motivates people. Everything is really about the culture. If your management feels empowered to make decisions and lead, they will pass that same ownership and trust to their direct reports and what you end up with is a team of people who feel value in what they do! And practicing empathy while managing a large team creates a safe environment where people know that what’s important to them is also important to you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Everyone! The Lip Bar was built by community of people who felt like our mission to challenge the beauty standard was their personal plight. My mother, my friends, my cousin and my fan base have all played an instrumental role in our growth. When we first launched in Target, we launched with no marketing strategy or marketing budget, but yet and still, our launch was wildly successful because we had a tribe of loyal people sharing our story, going to the stores and making purchases bc it wasn’t only a success for The Lip Bar, it was a success for all of us.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve used my success by pouring back into my community. Everything from mentoring to moving back home to Detroit. And you’d think a beauty business wouldn’t thrive in a city known for its grit, but it’s been beneficial to us because we were able to grow, but also because we were able to create jobs and pioneer a new industry here.


What are your “Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.

Don’t be afraid to make and admit mistakes in front of your team. Its ok to not be perfect and your vulnerability could create a safe space for them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement It would be to encourage transparency. I want us all to stop faking. We don’t all have it together. No one is perfect. No one is always happy. And truthfully, we’re all after the same things. Love, respect and being valued. Men too! Women deal with this a bit more, but men could really use a gentle reminder that they don’t have to have everything together by a certain age.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Happiness is a Choice!

Its relevant because as an entrepreneur, many things can and oftentimes do go wrong. And instead of getting angry about it, I strap down and get super solution oriented. Because at the end of the day, I can either complain and allow whatever transgression to ruin my day or I can recognize it and work through to take my power back.


Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Yikes this is tough because I’m inspired by so many different people for so many different reasons. But if I had to pick one person, it would be Oprah because I appreciate the level of excellence she brings to everything she touches all while staying grounded and protecting her heart. I mean seriously, do you listen to her Super Soul Conversations podcast? #amazing

Originally published at medium.com

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