How This Girl Built A Vegan Beauty Brand After Being Rejected By Shark Tank
Where do people go after their business ideas are rejected by “Shark Tank?” Well, some probably go back to their boring, non-entrepreneurial lives, but some persevere and still do whatever the fuck they were going to do without help.
Take Melissa Butler, for example.
Melissa quit her job on Wall Street to follow her dreams and create an affordable vegan cosmetic line. She was denied funding by “Shark Tank,” so she funded her business all by herself. Now, her brand is known as The Lip Bar and they’ll soon be available in Target stores.
We talked to Melissa about how she bounced back after “Shark Tank,” how she built her brand, and how she’s using her company to give back.
What made you create The Lip Bar?
I grew frustrated with the beauty industry. Instead of complaining, I wanted to be that solution. Seeing linear looks of women throughout media and most cosmetics being filled with chemicals frustrated me. I wanted women to feel beautiful and have representation and that’s what made me start and keeps me going.
When you decided to become an entrepreneur, what was the most difficult aspect of it?
Nothing was difficult because I knew what I wanted to do and was passionate about it. You have to have tunnel vision because you will face adversity and have struggles throughout your journey. To be an entrepreneur, you really have to want it, because it’s hard work.
As a new entrepreneur, how did you fund your vision?
I’ve ben self-funded, even to this day. No investors at all. I took my savings and put it where I wanted it to be. I worked for Wall Street and was able to make a good source of income. If you don’t have a good cash flow, you have to start with what you have and start small. Focus on being local and locking down that market before expanding. I started with what I had because I wasn’t a trust-fund kid, but my own personal income was sufficient enough to give me that initial boost.
Why did you leave Wall Street?
I really wanted to focus on my business. In order for my business to give me 100%, I had to do the same. I was making great money at a young age, but I didn’t want to be the person that worked on Wall Street for 30 years. I didn’t want to spend all my energy building someone else’s brand.
What made you continue to keep going after being rejected on “Shark Tank?”
With everything in business in general, you’re going to be told no a lot. Everyone won’t believe in you and that’s ok. People just saw it happen to me publicly. Just because they said no, it didn’t cause me to doubt myself. Instead I was like, “Okay, this door isn’t opening, but cool, I’ll figure it out another way.” When you get no’s, it shouldn’t make you stop. It was tough because no one wants to be told that their dreams are invalid, but that person only has power if you give it to them. I wasn’t allowing the judges on “Shark Tank” to say my dreams weren’t worthy.
What tips do you have for young women interested in starting their own makeup line?
In any business you start, be passionate about whatever you want to do and have a strong team. The money and other things don’t matter if you have doubt and try to do it all by yourself. Not your friends or people who are easily accessible, but people who want to see your brand grow. In the beginning you kinda wear all the hats, but you won’t grow if everything isn’t getting executed in a timely manner.
How does your company celebrate beauty through diversity?
We believe that beauty doesn’t look like a certain thing. Our shade range and imagery with our models all speaks to a very diverse beauty world. We are all about increasing representation. So if you see a dark skin black woman, an asian woman, a plus size women on a campaign, it isn’t shocking, it’s a norm, we are setting a new beauty standard.
What do you want your supporters to take from this interview?
I want them to take from The Lip Bar that they are enough, everything that we do is with our customers in mind. Try to accept your flaws and accept it as an extension of who you are. Everything you like and dislike is still a part of you. Learn how to appreciate the things that make you whole. Brands like my company exist to target that goal. Also, follow your dreams and don’t ever settle.
Photo by Bre’Ann White