Hustle Mindset

From Rejected To Major Retailers: What Happened To The Lip Bar After Shark Tank?


If you’re a burgeoning business owner or hopeful entrepreneur, chances are you’re familiar with ABC’s Shark Tank. Premiering in 2009, the show’s premise revolves around aspiring entrepreneurs pitching their products or business ideas to a panel of potential investors, known as “sharks.”

Made up of successful business moguls including Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary, these seasoned vets have the power to make some big dreams come true, as contestants plead for investment funds in exchange for equity in their companies.

The show has been the force behind some of the industry’s most coveted products, from the Squatty Potty to the Scrub Daddy. Some products that don’t secure a deal on the show still manage to make traction, including Melissa Butler’s inclusive cosmetic brand, The Lip Bar. But what happened to The Lip Bar after Shark Tank? Here’s what we know.

Who Is Melissa Butler?

Before her appearance on Shark Tank, Melissa Butler was a former Wall Street financial analyst who left her corporate job at Barclays in pursuit of creating inclusive beauty products. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, she completed her bachelor’s degree in business finance at Florida A&M University, applying these learned skills to eventually run her own company.

Frustrated by the lack of affordable vegan lipsticks in bright colors, Butler began making and selling vegan lipsticks out of her Brooklyn home and selling them as a side hustle, earning $27,000 in her first year of sales. Equipped with a deep passion for challenging conventional beauty standards, this dynamic entrepreneur began building out the brand and offering products that cater to diverse skin tones, making a splash on Shark Tank as the founder of The Lip Bar in 2015.

What Is The Lip Bar?

Founded by Butler in 2012, The Lip Bar is a vegan cosmetics brand known for its vibrant array of lipstick shades and commitment to inclusivity. Cruelty-free made with natural ingredients, the brand quickly gained traction for its bold approach to makeup and mission to redefine antiquated beauty standards. Butler’s goal with the brand was to create products that celebrated individuality and embraced diversity, offering a range of lipstick shades with cocktail-themed names designed to complement a variety of skin tones.

What Happened To The Lip Bar?

Following its Shark Tank appearance, The Lip Bar lived on, surviving challenges while earning successes. Butler did not secure a deal on the show; in fact, the sharks gave disheartening feedback. Rejected by all five judges and referred to as “colorful cockroaches,” she was told they did not see the colorful lipsticks as marketable. Butler went on to state in an interview with The Detroit News, “Honestly, they were very cruel. But it worked out in the end because we got tons of exposure.” Luckily, that very exposure significantly boosted brand recognition and sales, continuing to expand its product line and distribution channels post-Shark Tank.

Gaining a loyal following amongst customers who appreciated the company’s commitment to inclusivity and quality, The Lip Bar products became available in retailers like Target, a major win for any brand in the beauty industry.

Through strategic partnerships, as well as social media and community engagement, Butler propelled The Lip Bar to new heights, launching an e-commerce platform in addition to its retail access.
This not only facilitated a wider reach, but also enabled The Lip Bar to connect directly with its customer base, fostering a warm sense of community and brand loyalty.

As of 2024, through perseverance and a commitment to shapeshifting the beauty industry in the name of diversity, Butler transformed her passion project into a thriving business that continues to empower individuals to embrace their unique shade of beauty. While Shark Tank was certainly a significant moment in The Lip Bar’s journey, the brand’s success extends far beyond the rejection of the reality show.

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