This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

By Sherri Kolade

What does beauty brand inclusivity look like?  

For The Lip Bar founder Melissa Butler, it all boils down to looking within and knowing you are a baddie inside and out.   

On the 10th anniversary of The Lip Bar, Butler launched her second brand, Thread Beauty, also now selling at Target.   

In 2015, she was laughed out of the room after being rejected on Shark Tank.

Described as a beauty brand for humans of color, Thread was developed for humans of color who are “expressive and unapologetic in their being.”

“We believe makeup is the greatest tool for self-expression, it’s a connecting thread that weaves itself through all of humanity, no matter our ethnicity, pronouns or orientation. Periodt,” according to its website.    

Butler, a Detroit native who strategically launched The Lip Bar as a start-up beauty brand in 2012, developed a nationwide phenomenon.   

“I started the company making lipstick in my kitchen,” Butler said.  

Butler obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from Florida A & M University before going on to work on Wall Street as a licensed stockbroker.    

“Everyone deserves to have representation. Without it, we are left seeking validation” she says. It was her belief in health and inclusion that led her to make lipstick in her kitchen and develop the vegan line. Her goal is to empower women everywhere of all ages, races, and body types to be confident in their own skin and remember that they are enough.  

Thread Beauty, which began earlier in February, is also “proud af” to be the first beauty brand designed with the Generation-Z BIPOC community as the main attraction, “never the afterthought – while also being hella inclusive and welcoming to our allies too.”  

Thread Beauty products include concealer, contour, lip gloss, complexion stick, bling products, blending sponge, foundation, and more.  

“At Thread, we say what we mean and do what makes us feel good, all while freely expressing our creativity – especially through makeup,” according to its website.  

Thread features 100% vegan and cruelty-free makeup products.  

Butler says that the company was named Thread because of human connectivity.  

“The idea no matter who we are, our shape, body, sexual orientation – we’re still just connected by a thread,” she says.  

“At Thread, we believe that makeup is the greatest tool for self-expression,” Thread’s website stated. “It’s a connecting thread that weaves itself through all of humanity, no matter our ethnicity, pronouns, orientation, or how much money is in the bank. We also believe that while makeup isn’t necessary –even though social media tries to make us feel otherwise – we’re perfect just the way we are. Periodt.”  

Butler told the Michigan Chronicle that her journey into the beauty industry began because she noticed a stark lack of diversity in this space. Her financial background also took a different path from the traditional beginnings of people entering this makeup space.  

“Many people have a background in beauty, makeup artists, and that is really far from my truth,” Butler says. “I started my career on Wall Street and ended up starting Lip Bar because of a lack of diversity and an excessive amount of chemicals, and beauty products looks like one thing and so many people are trying to transform but they’re already beautiful.”    

Butler added that Thread Beauty is about trying to change the way people think about beauty and pleasure and it is an honor to serve the beauty community and be the reminder that “beauty doesn’t look like anything, anyone.”  

Butler and The Lip Bar have been featured in Forbes, Essence, People, Elle and Cosmopolitan magazines, as well as LinkedIn, Fast Company, and The Huffington Post. And in 2018, she solidified her passion for disrupting beauty norms in her Ted Talk on beauty and culture.

“Thread was able to grow so quickly because of all of my years of learning with The Lip Bar for the first several years of The Lip Bar I didn’t even pay me a salary,” she says. “I was reinvesting all the money back into the business. I knew I wanted to do something purposeful and needed in our community, [I] always believed that.”