While working long hours as a Wall Street analyst, Melissa Butler started making lipstick in her kitchen as a hobby. But it soon turned into an obsession, costing thousands of dollars. She was frustrated by the lack of diversity in the cosmetics industry, and as a Black woman, wanted to create lipstick colors that complimented her complexion and style. So in 2010, she launched The Lip Bar, with bold colors like green and purple, and boozy names like “Cosmo” and “Sour Apple Martini.” Undeterred by a disastrous appearance on Shark Tank with her partner Rosco Spears, Melissa was motivated to pitch her lipstick to Target, and in 2016, launched a new color on Target’s online store. Today, The Lip Bar—rebranded in 2021 as TLB—has expanded to stores nationwide and is now the largest Black-owned makeup brand sold in Target stores.
This episode was produced by James Delahoussaye, with music by Ramtin Arablouei.
Edited by Neva Grant, with research help from Daryth Gayles.