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She Was Rejected On Shark Tank. Then She Used That To Her Advantage.

Melissa Butler knew her line of brightly colored lipsticks would be a hit. So when the beauty industry ignored her, she kept moving forward.

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This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Two things led Melissa Butler to become an entrepreneur: She hated her Wall Street job; and as a Black woman, she couldn’t find lipstick that complemented her skin tone. “Growing up, I never saw people who looked like me and were considered beautiful,” she says. “As I got older, I started understanding how the beauty industry perpetuates this B.S., linear idea of beauty.” So Butler set out to create a better beauty brand, offering vegan, cruelty-free lipsticks in bold shades like purple and green. She had no idea what she was doing -- but naivete served her well, forcing her to take risks when she had no other option. Today, thanks to relentless hard work (and a little bit of stalking), The Lip Bar is an eight-year-old brand with $2 million in funding and shelf space at Target. Here’s how she built it. 

Courtesy of The Lip Bar

Related: How Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp Evolved Along With Her Brand

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