Melissa Butler’s cosmetics brand, The Lip Bar, is now available in over 3,000 CVS stores nationwide. (Courtesy photo)

Cosmetics Founder Melissa Butler on her latest business milestone

Twelve years after the launch of The Lip Bar, the brand is continuing to raise the bar and challenge the status quo within the beauty industry. While some people may have initially learned about founder Melissa Butler following her appearance on “Shark Tank” in 2018, the brand is lightyears beyond that moment and there are many other accomplishments and business gems to glean from a conversation with Butler.

Having recently introduced a skincare line and the Gen-Z-centered makeup line, thread beauty, Butler is also reveling in another milestone, The Lip Bar has debuted in over 3,000 CVS stores nationwide. In addition to her brand being sold in Walmart and making history as the largest Black-owned brand in Target, the expansion into CVS is yet another sign of The Lip Bar’s lasting imprint on the beauty industry.

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When asked how the CVS deal came about, Butler shared that it was a full circle moment after initially pitching them in 2019.

“This time around, they came to us which is really exciting,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because we were already in Target and Walmart. I think it’s because when people are looking for Black-owned brands that speak authentically to the community in the makeup space, it’s The Lip Bar. It’s us every single time.

Melissa Butler, Founder of The Lip Bar. (Courtesy Photo)

“And I don’t say that in a pompous way. I say it because every day for the last 12 years we’ve challenged the beauty standard. And what that meant for us was making sure that we showed a diverse range of what beauty looks like.”

Now that customers can purchase The Lip Bar on her website, Target, Walmart, and now CVS, the Sentinel asked Butler if that could lead to oversaturation in the market.

“The reality is it’s not necessarily about the retailer, it’s really about the customer. Like, from a B2B (Business to Business) perspective, yes, Target, CVS, and Walmart are my customers. But they’re kind of just the intermediary.

“If I have four different types of customers, I have to know what lifestyle they have, what they need in their makeup routine, and what language that resonates with them” she continued.

“And then really breaking that down and knowing what are their habits? Where are they shopping? What are they watching? Who are they admiring? What are they reading? You have to determine who that customer is for you and know what they need. And that’s how you avoid cannibalization, by focusing on deep segmentation.”

Speaking of knowing your customer, oftentimes entrepreneurs are overly focused on raising capital in order to reach their audience. While this is important, Butler believes entrepreneurs also need to focus on validating if they have a viable product.

“[What some entrepreneurs] are missing is data collection that informs decision-making. Because at the end of the day, you’re producing a product or a service that has an end user in mind. You have to make sure that that end user actually wants whatever you’re selling,” she said.

The Lip Bar is an award-winning cosmetics brand that features clean, vegan, and cruelty-free product formulations. (Courtesy Photo)

“Magic only happens when they have a need that they’re looking to fill, you have a product that they want, and the price point aligns in such a way that they make a purchase. You could have something that someone wants, but they think it’s too expensive or too cheap, so they think it’ll be ineffective.”

As an example, Butler said, “The average person probably doesn’t want to use a $2 face wash, but they might use a $2 lip gloss. So, you really have to understand your customers. Beyond money, beyond marketing, more data and research around whatever product or service you’re offering will get you really far.”

The Sentinel concluded the conversation with Butler by asking what having “discipline” means for her as the CEO of two bustling beauty E-commerce brands along with two brick-and-mortar stores in Detroit.

“I love being productive. I love feeling like I’ve accomplished all the things that I said I was going to do because it means that I showed up for myself. So, for me, discipline is a matter of being really clear on your goals” she said.

“And I think that if your goals are tied to something bigger, it will be really challenging to leave them behind. So discipline is about being very clear on what you’re looking to accomplish and why, and that’s how you stay in it.”

To learn more about Melissa Butler, visit