According to Allure, Target has partnered with the Black-owned beauty brand, The Lip Bar, and will launch their line of vegan and cruelty-free products this spring. Melissa Butler, a former Wall Street financial analyst, is the founder of the brand after spending years frustrated and dissatisfied with the lack of representation for black women in the beauty industry.
Butler states, “Everyone deserves to have representation. Without it, we are left seeking validation.”
Butler also states in the initial stages of her building her brand, The Lip Bar, she pitched it to Shark Tank. The sharks decided to pass on what is now a business she says is worth nearly half a million dollars.
The 30-year old Detroit native’s brand has skyrocketed since starting The Lip Bar in 2012 out of her own kitchen in Brooklyn, NY. Fast forward to 2018 and the entire line is already available in 44 Target stores and will be available in 100 more stores this May.
Target launched the line with two exclusive shades: Unimpressed, a liquid matte lip color, and Baddie, a lip gloss. Lipstick lovers can also choose from The Lip Bar’s Cream Lipstick ($12), which is full of moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and vitamin E or the Liquid Matte Collection ($13) with almond oil to keep your pucker moist.
Finally, there’s the line of lip glosses ($14) which are organic, nourishing and provide a slight glaze for a touch of glamour.
Butler pledges: “Everything we do at The Lip Bar is about empowering women to be their best selves. We give representation to the underserved so that every girl has the privilege of being socially accepted as beautiful. And in in my free time, I mentor young women in the inner city of Detroit (my hometown) to show them that they are better than their surroundings and to prove that they don’t have to be a product of their environment.”
#AskMe Tees are the brainchild of Washington D.C. entrepreneur Ayanna Smith. Ayanna has created a timely remix of the slogan tee – and we love it! These T-shirts encourage people, friends and strangers alike, to talk to each other by offering intriguing questions as conversation starters.
It’s a clever concept. #AskMe Tees promote listening and discussion in an age where it has become increasingly common for people to dismiss each other or make unfounded assumptions. The #AskMe Tees (and other #AskMe accessories) are emblazoned with light-hearted questions such as #AskMe who made the potato salad and #AskMe about my superpowers to other more provocative and socially-conscious questions like #AskMe Why Black Lives Matter, #AskMe why I voted for him, and #AskMe about autism… don’t assume. Whichever #AskMe Tee you choose, remember to be ready for a conversation!
This interview with Mahisha Dellinger, chief executive of Curls, a maker of hair care products, has been edited for space and clarity.
Q. What were your early years like?
A. I grew up in California, in an area called Meadowview, which was dubbed Danger Island. There was a lot of crime: drug activity, gang activity, home invasions, drive-by shootings. I was my mother’s star child because I never gave her any trouble.But my brother was in a gang, so he got into a lot of trouble starting from 15 on. Our house actually got shot up because another gang came to retaliate. No one was hurt, but my environment was very much one of fear. I had to learn how to take care of myself at an early age. My mother worked a lot, and she was often gone. So from the age of 7 on, I got myself breakfast, made my lunch, went to school, came back home, did my homework, and then she would come home after 7. In that kind of neighborhood and environment, you can go either way. You can either become a leader and control your destiny because you’re forced to, or you can go in the opposite direction. I had to become a leader of my life, and it started there, at a young age.I think I have an innate strength about me because of where I came from. I’ve seen it all. And I had a desire to change my life. I didn’t want to live the way I was living. That pushed me to finish my education and ultimately go on to higher education, and change my legacy.
Given that you had to take care of yourself, were you able to be involved in things outside of school?
My mom changed her lifestyle. She used to party a lot on the weekend. My brother would babysit me, and take care of us both while she was gone. But in sixth grade, she gave her life to God, and that’s when our lives really changed for the better. From that point, it became all about church, all week. Church was my life. I didn’t have really a lot outside of that. It was a very strict environment from sixth grade on. I loved it. I had a sense of belonging.
Tell me about your decision to become an entrepreneur.
I reached a point where I decided I’m never going to work for anyone else again. I’m going to own my destiny, and I’m going to determine how far I can go. When I turned the switch on my website in April 2002, I was so happy when I had eight orders. It was the best thing ever, that first day. Initially, it was e-commerce only. The big change in my business really happened in 2009, when Target called and wanted to carry my products. That gave us the exposure we needed.
What have been some key leadership lessons for you?
I learned to soften my approach. Because I am a Type A, there’s not a lot of room for fluff, typically. That’s my personality, but I had to soften myself with certain people and adapt to different personalities and give each one what they need individually. I have four kids, and they’re all different. I feel like my employees are the same way. Some need more from me in some areas, some need less, and I had to change that so I could retain my key people. That was an important personal development for me.
Next May, entrepreneur, television producer and former supermodel Tyra Banks will be teaching students at Stanford University how to grow their brand and manage their own businesses. Banks will be a guest lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and she will co-teach 25 MBA students in the course about the ups and downs of the business world, which will require students to present their brands across platforms including YouTube, Facebook Live, and local television.
Banks told the Wall Street Journal that she expects her students to work hard, saying, “If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them.”
Most kids are happy to earn a few dollars selling lemonade on the sidewalk. But not 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer. The pre-teen entreprenuer is making a name for herself in the world of business by landing an $11 million deal with upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for her natural lemonade, which she calls BeeSweet.
Ulmer and her lemonade first came to national attention when she appeared on Shark Tank, taking home $60,000 in venture capital for her BeeSweet business. Her company’s main priority, other than making delicious lemonade, is to help save the global bee population by utilizing honey as sweetener instead of sugar.
Her Shark Tank deal is pocket change compared to what Whole Foods is offering: $11 million and shelf space in 55 Whole Foods stores across the nation. On top of that, she also has a deal with United Natural Foods to help expand her business.
But that’s still not enough for Mikaila. In addition to running her business — she does have a little help from her mother — and staying on top of her school work, Ulmer wants to visit South Africa to teach girls about entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses.
Most beauty pageants claim they’re about celebrating brains and beauty. But the beauty (and body) part often gets a majority of the shine while the brains get whittled to one or two questions on stage.
That’s what best friends Maureen A. Ochola and Jessica E. Boyd hope to change. The two created the Miss Naturally Crowned Carolinapageant, a natural hair celebration also focused on business that’s been disrupting the Southern pageant scene since its 2013 debut in their hometown of Columbia, S.C. It has proven to be a success, so much so that they’re putting on their third exhibition on April 16.
“I had a high-level overview of pageants when we started, and they all seemed to be focused on the just physical aspect,” Ochola said. “What I like about what we’re doing is we’re highlighting natural hair. We take that confidence and add on the business element because that’s really what you need to be successful in business. Confidence.”
The pageant focuses on the beauty of natural hair and the beauty of Black female business owners. Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina started as a program to grow interest and a customer base for the co-founders’ original business idea: a brick-and-mortar natural haircare beauty supply store. They started social media accounts to test their idea first, and the accounts gained popularity.
“The money that it takes to start a store, we really didn’t have,” Boyd said. “We thought: How can we stay relevant and make people continue to be excited until we can get the store open?”
The two chose to think outside the box and celebrate two things they love: natural hair and business. “We thought about a pageant,” Boyd said. “In December of 2013, we announced we would have it.”
The organic success of the pageant was a pleasant surprise to Boyd and Ochola. It gave them the initiative to explore the pageant as a legitimate extension of their original idea. It was clear that such celebrations were needed and gaining quite the following.
“After the first pageant, it kind of took off. We sold out of tickets,” Boyd said. “The impact it had on the girls and the community, in general, took on a life of its own. It wasn’t a question. We had to bring it back and do it bigger and better.”
It’s not a surprise that creativity in business is also one of the pageant’s key themes. Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina contestants learn firsthand about entrepreneurship and small business.
“Last year we added a twist: a business pitch idea because that’s essentially what we’re doing,” Ochola said. “Why not introduce that to these girls as well?”
The next time you find yourself in Philadelphia and in need of a comic books and coffee fix, there’s a destination in town that has you covered. Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse is owned by Ariell R. Johnson, the first Black woman to open a comic book store on the East Coast.
Johnson, a Baltimore native, says she got the idea for Amalgam over 12 years ago when she was a student at Temple University. A comic books fan herself, her favorite store sat across from her coffee shop of choice. She would buy copies of comics then head across the street to have a cup of joe while reading her new finds. When the coffeehouse closed, Johnson’s wheels began turning and she began planting the early seeds for Amalgam.
Amalgam rests in Philly’s up-and-coming Kensington section, and she hopes that it becomes a haven for longtime comics fans and newbies alike. There is also a push for diversity, as there are comic book lines that focus on underrepresented groups such as people of color and the LBGTQ community.
Another focus of the store is to feature not only the major lines from top companies like Marvel and DC, but also the growing number of independent comic book lines from across the nation. Johnson envisions Amalgam as a place where everyone feels welcomed and has put in place a staff that will help guide the less experienced on their comic journey.
There has been some debate whether or not Johnson is the first Black female comic store owner ever, but nonetheless she is definitely a rarity in the white and male-dominated world of comics.
With access to capital hard to come by for small black business owners, Patrice Banks is the proud recipient of a $50,000 prize from Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic (K4-MA). The cornerstone of the Keiretsu Forum angel investment network recently announced the winners of its third annual Angel Capital Expo.
Girls Auto Clinic is a female-empowerment business, owned and operated by Banks, who is an engineer and technician. The big winner of the coveted $100,000 investment from K4-MA was Tassl, a college-centric social network application for smartphones.
Of the $50,000 investment, $25,000 is an investment from the founders of K4-MA, with $25,000 of which being services in kind from Keiretsu Forum sponsors Drucker & Scaccetti and BakerHostetler. Keiretsu Forum is a global angel investor network with more than 1500 accredited investor members throughout 39 chapters on three continents (accredited investors are individuals who earn at least $200,000 annually and have $1 million net worth). Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic consists of four chapters that function as a single entity – Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. Metro, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Girls Auto Clinic is an organization dedicated to changing the perception of women in the automotive industry through both education and niche marketing. Roughly less than 2% of mechanics and auto technicians are women. Through Banks’ entrepreneurial efforts, Girls Auto Clinic has been able to support the role of women in the automotive environment through trust, education and, ultimately, inclusion by changing the way men look at their female counterparts; both for the better and for all time.
Banks was tired of being a victim of sexist discrimination with auto repairs. She took that frustration and turned it into a business venture. After seeing the glaring neglect of women working in the automotive industry, she made it her personal mission to empower and educate other women car owners with her knowledge. In 2012, she decided to enroll herself in classes to become a certified mechanic. She did so while still juggling her full-time job as an engineer for a year and a half.
For more information about the Girls Auto Clinic, click here.
It is a time old scenario, college girl meets hot guy, girl gets asked out on a date, girls goes to the mall and is unable to find anything to wear, as a result, girl creates her own business.
This is the true story of Camille Newman, founder of the online plus-size boutique PopUpPlus.com. Although the market of curvy women has gone largely ignored by the fashion world, today, this overlooked demographic is becoming increasingly popular and lucrative. According to Bloomberg, the plus-size industry is now valued at $17.5 billion. However, maverick and online entrepreneur Camille already knew the value of her curvy sisters and had her nose to the grindstone catering to this underserved market long before it became in vogue.
Eurweb had the pleasure to catch up with Camille Newman to discuss her online fashion boutique and why she feels most retailers are late guests to the curvy gal party.
Describe your background.
I graduated from college in 2002 with a liberal arts background. I have always had a love for fashion and I’ve always been curvy. I was actually on the path to a Ph.D. program, but I transitioned into corporate retail and moved back to New York City. I started out with Lane Bryant and since then for a number of companies for a long amount of time. I’ve been in fashion for almost 15 years [overseeing] store management, pricing strategy, planning and buying.
How did you come up with the ideas to start your business?
While in college, I met this cute guy and he asked me out for a date. My best friend and I went to the local mall and [we spent hours there]. I realized that I gained a lot of weight and I could not find anything to wear. I remember feeling terrible. It was a real blow to my self-esteem. I promised myself that no other girl that was my weight or heavier would ever feel like that. That is how my interest in the plus size industry started. I [thought of] a way to enter the industry with a low overhead and that’s how the idea for the pop up shop [was developed].
What are biggest misconceptions about plus-size women?
The biggest misconception is that we all have some insecurity, we overeat, and that we are unhappy and fat. A plus-size woman is a regular girl with some extra weight on. I’m saying we don’t have our challenges but I think our challenges [are increased] when you don’t see yourself being represented in the fashion industry. There are so many reasons why women gain weight. Many women have had children, they have issues with thyroids [which affects] a lot of African American women, which was my issue, it made me gain and keep the weight. I have met plus size women who are fashionable and taking style risk. Plus-size woman are have always been creative. I met a lady who tailored maternity wear. We have always been a creative group of fashionistas.
In your opinion, why these misconceptions continue to exist in our society?
On my Instagram, I will post a girl in a form fitting dress and people will have rude, nasty comments. “Oh my God look at her butt, yes she has shape wear on but why is she wearing that, [she should wear] something more flowing, [she should] cover [her] arms.” And the [July issue where] the Oprah Magazine article said that you can only wear a crop top if you have a flat stomach. I think we live in a society unfortunately, that fashion has been able to take over our minds and make you think that in order to be fashionable you have to be skinny, blonde, tall, and anorexic looking.
The reality is according to the United States Census 6 out of 10 women in the U.S. are a size 14 or larger. Yet, we allow the fashion industry to dictate our taste, but they shouldn’t be able to dictate what is good and real for a woman’s body. The fashion industry should not be allowed to perpetuate size-ism; they should not be allowed to make the majority of American woman feel bad about themselves.