Melissa Butler says having a choice of makeup shades, ‘not really a problem anymore’

The beauty CEO says her focus is solving new problems customers face

Melissa Butler is the CEO and founder of The Lip Bar, as well as the founder and creator of Thread Beauty.

What began as a mission to diversify makeup, she established a beauty brand that has continued to evolve since 2012.

Butler opened up about her start in the makeup industry, how the television show “Shark Tank” played a role in growing her company and her new customer focus.

How did you get started in the beauty industry?

I didn’t start with “Shark Tank,” but it’s sort of that moment where I think a lot of people think that’s where  she kept going. The Lip Bar is 11 years old. I started it in my Brooklyn kitchen in 2012, and I was just so frustrated with the beauty industry and its lack of diversity, and its excessive amounts of chemicals.

I am not a makeup girl. I am not a makeup artist. I started it because I wanted to change the way people thought about beauty so that they can look in the mirror see themselves and know that they were enough. I felt like what was needed was increased representation. Like I wanted to change the idea that beauty was linear and that it looked like one thing. That was in 2012 and now this is 11 years later, and I’ve gone through trials and tribulations; “Shark Tank “was one of them.

That’s not the only thing that went left in the business. Every single day as an entrepreneur, you are faced with some level of failure. It’s just about what you do with that failure. How do you keep going? How do you allow your curiosity to lead to resilience?

What do you think of diversity in the beauty industry now?

I mean in 2012 when we started and no one was talking about things like body positivity or why Black women or women of color needed a diverse range of shades. The reality is today, that’s not a problem anymore. Everyone is selling a million shades of foundation and everyone is showing this inclusive idea of what beauty looks like. What that meant for the Lip Bar is we had to pivot and solve new problems for our customers. If all of the big brands are saying “Okay, now we see women of color,” then I want to make sure that my business still has the opportunity to serve the customer in the way that she most needs. If having things that work for her skin tone is not the primary need anymore, how do I make sure that I am de-risking my business?

At the end of the day as an entrepreneur what got you there won’t keep you there, and you have to be reminded of that. You have to know how to properly serve your customer which means you need to know your customer. I’m always trying to just listen.

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