EXCLUSIVE: The Lip Bar Launches ‘Bawse Ventures’ to Empower Minority Entrepreneurs

Photo: Courtesy of The Lip Bar.

In a bold move aimed at empowering underrepresented BIPOC and female entrepreneurs, The Lip Bar Inc. has unveiled “Bawse Ventures.” As the visionary founder and a recipient of the New Voices Fund, CEO Melissa Butler has long been a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusivity within the beauty industry. With “Bawse Ventures,” she extends her commitment beyond cosmetics, acknowledging the systemic barriers faced by minority entrepreneurs.

“I was inspired to create this program because I understand the challenges firsthand as the founder and CEO of The Lip Bar,” Butler tells ESSENCE. “I know what it’s like to lack the financial resources needed to secure a bank loan for launching a business,” she explains. Butler emphasizes the urgent need to address the capital gap hindering the scalability of businesses within Black and brown communities. “This microfund is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs who may not yet be ready for venture capital but require financial assistance for crucial aspects like inventory, trade shows, staffing, and other essentials for success.”

Under Butler’s leadership, “Bawse Ventures” also offers more than just financial backing. Selected recipients will benefit from mentorship directly from Butler herself and gain access to a curated network of industry professionals. This holistic approach underscores The Lip Bar’s commitment to nurturing both businesses and the individuals behind them, equipping founders with the tools and guidance needed to thrive in a competitive landscape.

The Lip Bar’s ‘Bawse Ventures’ Empowers Minority Entrepreneurs
Photo: Courtesy of The Lip Bar.

For Butler, “the mentorship is more important than the money,” she says. “We will guide the entrepreneurs on how to manage money wisely. First, there will be quarterly meetings with me, and I will bring in an accountant, PR expert, and other key people who can advise them on their businesses.” Her goal is to transition participants from the mentorship program into larger funding opportunities such as New Voices or the Madam CJ Walker Bootcamp, facilitating their continued growth.

The significance of “Bawse Ventures” embodies a broader ethos of empowerment and resilience. Named in homage to The Lip Bar’s iconic red matte liquid lipstick, Bawse Lady, the initiative embodies confidence and self-assurance. Inspired by influential figures like Michelle Obama and Taraji P. Henson, who have endorsed the brand’s products, “Bawse Ventures” symbolizes a universal movement towards embracing one’s inner ‘bawse’ – unapologetically. 

“I want aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace their confidence because, with confidence, anything is achievable. I want them to be unapologetically themselves and leverage their uniqueness as their superpower,” Butler says. “I want to inspire them, but more importantly, I want to provide tangible support and guidance for their journey.”

The application window for “Bawse Ventures” is now open on thelipbar.com. Finalists will be notified in June 2024, and winners announced in September 2024. 

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