(Photo: The Lip Bar)

Melissa Butler calls herself a mixologist, but you won’t find her signature cocktails behind any bar. Her love of crafting “cocktails” started in her kitchen in 2010, and from there developed into a full-fledged beauty business in 2012 that merged her love of a good cocktail and her passion for beauty.

The 30-year-old Detroit native is the founder of The Lip Bar — a line of brightly colored lipsticks ranging from mandarin orange to kamikaze blue. The brand, which has grown immensely in popularity, was brought to national attention last year, when Butler appeared on “Shark Tank.” Representatives of the vibrant lipstick company entered the Tank hoping to seal a sweet deal with the sharks but unfortunately went home empty-handed.

Rejection, however, didn’t halt the Lip Bar’s growth.

Thanks to the exposure from the show, the lipstick line, which is made from natural ingredients, has raked in nearly half-a-million dollars. And business continues to boom as Butler breathes life and passion into her products.

Get to know more about The Lip Bar from Melissa Butler below:

What year was The Lip Bar founded?

The Lip Bar was born in 2012 Brooklyn, NY. It was there that I began making lipsticks in my kitchen.

What inspired you to launch your business?

It’s common for most beauty brands to start because of someone’s love for makeup. I started The Lip Bar because I was frustrated with the beauty industry. I hated that most cosmetics were filled with unnecessary chemicals. I hated that lipstick came in a very limited color range. I hated the struggle to find nude lips that didn’t make me look ashy. So I started making lipstick in my kitchen in 2011 for personal use, and the brand developed around the need for women everywhere to have responsibly-made products that worked for all skin tones. When we launched in 2012, I was working on Wall Street; fast forward four years later, we’re sold on Target.com. And while so much has changed about the brand, we are still catering to that underserved community of women and fighting for their representation in the beauty world.

What makes your brand/product unique?

I always tell people you can buy lipstick anywhere from the drugstore to the department store. But The Lip Bar is more than a just a product. We exist to challenge the standard of beauty through our vegan and natural ingredients, affordable pricing, beautiful packaging and diverse imagery. At The Lip Bar, we tell a story of inclusion, and our products and everything we do reaffirm the idea that beauty is not linear. No matter what shape, size, complexion or hair texture, you deserve representation. So we make sure we use models that depict a different image than the average beauty brand. Our products simply support our belief that every complexion is beautiful and that you shouldn’t have to compromise your health for beauty.  

Why should everyone #buyblack this holiday season?

Because group economics is one of the only things that will save our community. When you support a black-owned business, you are supporting a family, an education, a neighborhood. So I say don’t just support because it’s the holiday and don’t support just because it’s black. Support because the livelihood of your family and your grandchildren’s family depends on it. There is power in our numbers, but we can’t tap into that power until we come together. The Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn are a great example of group economics. They have their own grocery stores, banks, hardware stores, etc. When you create this sort of community, the ability for others to come in and capitalize, appropriate or even recklessly police us is lessened greatly.

How do you pay it forward within your community?

Everything we do at The Lip Bar is about empowering women to be their best selves. We give representation to the underserved so that every girl has the privilege of being socially accepted as beautiful. And in my free time, I mentor young women in the inner city of Detroit (my hometown) to show them that they are better than their surroundings and to prove that they don’t have to be a product of their environment.

What is your business mantra?

Remember why you started and never stop! Owning a business is tough, and it is easy to fall prey to worrying about the money and the growth that you start changing your business so much that you find yourself fully lost on its initial purpose. But if you are truly filling a need, use that as your foundation, know it will be hard, and never stop fighting for what you believe in. Your business will eventually compensate you for your determination.

Kimberly Wilson is a writer and social media director at theGrio. Follow her on Twitter.