Dozens of eager patrons waited outside along Parker’s Alley to get inside the Lip Bar for its grand opening in downtown Detroit Saturday. Founded by native Detroiter Melissa Butler in 2012, the vegan, gluten-free, all-natural and cruelty-free lipstick collection opened its 300-square-foot retail flagship store right behind the new Shinola Hotel.
The store, officially located at 1435 Farmer Street, suite 122, joins other retailers including juice maker Drought, florist Posie Atelier, and clothing retailer Madewell along Parker’s Alley.
“I was nervous because it’s cold outside,” laughed Butler, on whether she expected the line to her new store to be out the door. “When we opened the pop-up shop in July, we had a line, but it was warm. I didn’t know if people would come, because it’s February and it’s cold out. But people are showing love and I appreciate it.”
In November, Butler was awarded $20,000 from the city’s Motor City Match program to assist with the $70,000 build-out. Mayor Mike Duggan was in attendance Friday for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Goodie bags and champagne were also on hand. Butler said programs such as Motor City Match are important for small businesses of color in Detroit in order to level the playing field, trying to compete for spaces and business with larger corporations.
Butler started the Lip Bar truck and sold product in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Toronto. Raised on Detroit’s east side near City Airport, she is now able to sell her product out of the Lip Bar’s first permanent retail shop in the heart of downtown.
“I’m happy we are finally creating some retail here in the city,” said Butler, who attended Cass Tech. “There’s no reason we should have to drive all the way to Somerset (Mall) to get high-quality products, especially make-up. I’m happy to be making my mark.”
The new space will employ three people and was designed by Imani Day of Detroit. As you enter the store, you will see four main stations with mirrors and products in an effort to personalize shoppers’ experiences. The store also features three swings hanging from the ceiling as a playful option while browsing. But there is not much room to swing.
Butler said she wanted to build a very “beautiful and unique experience” with her new retail store, in order to build a beauty community in Detroit. She has certainly made a connection with the Detroit community, taking photos and talking to customers outside the Lip Bar, while they waited to get inside.
“I am so glad to see an African-American business woman making powers moves in downtown Detroit,” said Cayla Bishop of Detroit, who did not mind waiting in the cold to buy lipstick. “As you walk along Woodward, there aren’t too many new stores that cater to women of color or are even owned by black people. What Melissa is doing is trailblazing for our city.”
Butler’s company previously sold at a pop-up shop on Agnes Street in Detroit’s West Village neighborhood. The Lip Bar’s products are now on Target shelves in stores across the U.S. Products and are completely vegan and cruelty free.
The Lip Bar will be open in downtown Detroit Monday-Saturday from 10-7 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m.