Black-Owned Business Rejected From ABC’s Shark Tank 10 Years Ago Raises $6.7M
The Lip Bar Inc., the holding company for the beauty brands The Lip Bar and Thread Beauty, has closed a new funding round.
The $6.7 million round, led by Pendulum, will focus on expanding The Lip Bar and Thread Beauty’s distribution as well as incubating a third beauty brand.
Endeavor and The Fearless Fund also contributed to the fund.
Melissa Butler, the business’ founder and Chief Executive Officer, said the round came after years of consistent growth unencumbered by the pandemic.
“Our lip sales were crazy during the pandemic—we sold more lip than anything because we have that liquid matter formula. That’s one of the most significant parts of the business. Our liquid mattes last all day and don’t dry your lips out,” she told WWD.
Speaking of the previous funding round, Butler said, “We have been very efficient with capital. We had created a lot of value, expanded into Walmart, into Target and launched Thread with $2 million.”
The Lip Bar has since become known for its matte liquid lipsticks in vibrant colors, and foundation sticks with built-in brushes.
Melissa had started out experimenting in her own kitchen, eventually founding her brand in 2012.
But the journey itself hasn’t been easy.
In the early days of the business, Melissa friend (also the brand’s creative director) Rosco Spears managed photoshoots. Butler handled everything from social media to shipping.
As most entrepreneurs admit, wearing multiple hats is daunting, but she told Byrdie, the publication, that the experience was an invaluable catalyst for her development. “I think there’s a gift and a curse of being new and naive in business,” she shared.
“Because you don’t know the rules, you don’t know what you should or shouldn’t be doing. You do whatever is in your heart. It was such a beautiful growth period, and it helped me believe in myself.”
For the first three years, every single product The Lip Bar sold came from her bare hands.
She was was doing the fulfillment, product development, customer service and branding.
Her hard-work ultimately led her to primetime TV on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Though, instead of getting investors for her beauty brand The Lip Bar, once she arrived, Butler was faced with doubters who insisted “she would never even get market share” with a business like hers.
Despite the public rejection, Butler remained true to her vision, continuing to create environmentally-friendly, vibrant products by any means necessary for a diverse clientele.