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2019 ESSENCE Beauty Carnival - Day 2

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

What happens when you put a beauty mogul and a best-selling author and journalist on a podcast? You have the latest episode of American Express’ “Built To Last” with Elaine Welteroth as the host and Lip Bar’s Melissa Butler to discuss how she’s been able to thrive during the pandemic. 

The video podcast series digs deep into the mainstream Black-owned businesses we see before us as we learn their stories, legacies and journey to success against all odds. While the first half of the episode is a discuss between the former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Fashion Fair’s Eunice Johnson, Melissa Butler chopped it up with Welteroth about Lip Bar, her opinion on the current state of the beauty business, and how her brand has taken everything with COVID and election season to stay connected with customers and continuing to grow her business.

“It’s an honor to host this debut season of ‘Built to Last’,” a vodcast from American Express that shines a light on Black entrepreneurs that are blazing new trails and finding innovative ways to thrive despite the unprecedented challenges of these times,” said Elaine Welteroth said in an official statement about her new position in the AmEx fam. “Their stories offer us all invaluable lessons in resilience and fortitude that inspire a new generation of entrepreneurship. We also dive deep into untold stories of Black business owners of the past that have defied the odds throughout history and laid vital blueprints for us to build on.”

Check out some of the major takeaways from the epic conversation between the Black girl bosses themselves:

“A Little Lip Goes A Long Way”

In the beginning of the conversation, Elaine admitted to Butler that while not wearing makeup during quarantine has been refreshing for her skin, a little bit of lipstick will switch up your Zoom presence. The former EIC herself admitted to sporting Lip Bar’s Baddie and Control Freak shades during the interview which she has now become obsessed with. 

“Money Can’t Make You Happy”

When Butler made the fearless decision to leave her “stable” income as a woman of Wall Street for entrepreneurship, she learned that though she was in a financially secure place, she was not the happiest she could’ve been. “I’m not growing here, I’m not happy here [and] the only reason I would be staying is the money,” Butler said retrospectively about her place of employment. “I’ve always known and had the understanding that money can’t make you happy. I was like, ‘I gotta go and do something that’s actually going to fulfill my purpose and do something for the community. Hell, do something for myself.” Butler continued to state that she left because she knew “this was not her future.”

“Just Because You’re Rich Doesn’t Mean You Know Everything”

After her experience on Shark Tank, Butler shared with Welteroth that though the hosts were mean to participants and budding entrepreneurs, she was not discouraged because she was “grounded” in her purpose. While she described the judges as “filthy rich,” she knew the worth of her product from the beginning and refused to ball up in a corner and give up on her dream. “It doesn’t mean that you know my future, that you can tell my future and that you can understand if this is a successful business or not,” she said proudly. She continued to tell Welteroth about how she pivoted from a ‘no’ to a “you’re not my audience” and continued to build her Lip Bar empire from there. 

“Entrepreneurs, You Have To Have Thick Skin”

“You have to be okay with failing [and] you have to be okay with learning because ultimately that’s what it is,” Butler shared as she was discussing her confidence as a businesswoman. “You’re not actually failing; you’re just learning so you can do it better or differently the next time.” Though her experience on Shark Tank was public, which may have been why that particular rejection hit differently, Butler knew that this was no time to throw in the towel, but a time to prove the shark wrong. And so she did!

“I’m Still Not Passionate About Makeup”

Unlike her competitors in the makeup and cosmetics industry, Butler was never passionate about makeup – and still isn’t. However, she knew that she was taking a headfirst dive into an industry she knew absolutely nothing about with purpose and passion for “changing the way people think about beauty.” Earlier in the conversation, she discussed with Welteroth about her realization about the way women’s self-esteem is connected to their outer beauty, which she deemed as “unfortunate,” but she took that conclusion and wanted to shift the narrative. 

“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

When Butler was discussing the importance of her building genuine mentor-mentee relationships in order to help The Lip Bar flourish into what it is today, she took on a student’s approach. “I didn’t have mentors and it really wasn’t until I got mentors that I think we started growing, but what’s really important about that is I didn’t go into these mentorship relationships like, ‘Hey, I don’t know where to start,’” she explained. “I went into those mentor relationships like, ‘Hey, these are all of the things that I did, this is what I’ve learned, this is what I know and these are my goals. Having a mentor was a really big part of my success and transforming The Lip Bar into a business because you don’t know what you don’t know.”

“Anyone Can Be A CEO”

“It means nothing,” Butler said as she explained the ‘easy’ process of creating an LLC and “slapping CEO on the back of your name,” but being a leader is where the work truly comes in. “You need to be an effective leader. You need to have strong emotional intelligence skills. You need to be able to understand the ‘why’ behind your business and be able to communicate that effectively.” While she admitted that she wasn’t initially the most savvy leader, Butler took it upon herself to do research, personal development, watch TED x Talks and read books on how to become the best leader she can be.

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