The Lip Bar: “I Was Rejected on ‘Shark Tank’—and I’m Better Off Because of It”

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She calls herself a mixologist, but you won’t find Melissa Butler crafting signature cocktails behind the bar. Instead, Butler serves up bright and bold colors for the perfect pout as the creator and owner of the Lip Bar, a paraben-free, vegan lipstick company. From Amaretto Sour (cool camel) to Kamikaze (a Tiffany & Co. teal), the brand, which started in 2012 and has a celebrity fan in Jordin Sparks, will make any pucker pop. The Lip Bar’s success—the business raked in $107,000 in its first two years—landed Butler on the popular entrepreneurial reality show, Shark Tank. The Sharks, however, wouldn’t bite. One even snubbed the brand when he said, “I can see a massive market share in the clown market,” and called Butler and her creative director “colorful cockroaches” before they walked away without a deal. Whoa. Cringe-worthy TV.

The experience didn’t halt the Lip Bar’s growth. Soon after the episode aired in February, the Lip Bar had a spike in sales and an increase in traffic on the company’s website. Butler then hit the road when she launched the Lip Bar mobile—a truckoutfitted with Lip Bar cosmetics, touring across the country to give customers a one-on-one retail experience and to increase the brand’s reach. Take that, Sharks!

Butler didn’t get a deal, but she learned a few things about redemption after rejection. As Elizabeth Taylor once said, “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” In the spirit of the Dame, Butler did just that. Here are her top tips for moving from rejection to re-invention.

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