When Melissa Butler founded The Lip Bar (TLB) over a decade ago, she was making everything by hand. “I was very passionate about subverting the beauty standard, empowering people through makeup, and creating vibrant statement colors for deep skin tones, but the thought of launching a second brand would have felt like a faraway dream at the time,” Butler recalls. It was the needs of the customer, for fast, easy-to-use color cosmetics in an array of skin tones that inspired her expansion.
As The Lip Bar’s core consumers were replaced by the spending power of Gen Z shoppers, Butler noticed a segment of young people forgotten by the beauty industry. “Rather than try to shoehorn them into the TLB brand, we wanted to create a brand truly fit for purpose, thus thread beauty was born.” thread beauty―the vegan, cruelty-free, Gen-Z-focused expansion of The Lip Bar inspired by one’s uniqueness instead of a one-size-fits-all approach―was her response to the apparent need.
In 2021, Thread Beauty debuted under the guiding principles of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. The product range was inspired almost exclusively by the future customers Butler had spent countless hours studying: Gen Z, person of color creators on TikTok and Instagram. “We found that this group of creatives aren't limited by what the package says a product is or can do. In their world, lipstick is blush, a gloss is an eye topper, and foundation can really be anything. I tasked my team with developing formulas and sourcing packaging that allows for this freedom of use.” The multiuse nature of the products was a core tenet of the product line to come, as well as affordability.
“I realized that a college freshman of color, with limited financial resources or expendable income but a passion for beauty, didn't have a single brand catering to he or she in the multicultural beauty aisles of Target at a truly affordable, accessible price point,” notes Butler. And if this consumer wanted to shop black-owned, they would have to spend at least $12 to $15+. As a result, all of Thread Beauty, including launches for 2023, sits under the $8 price point. “People of color deserve to support brands they care about, find products in their shade ranges, spend just $8, and leave Target with a high-quality beauty product that could start them on their journey.”
Thread Beauty’s recent expansions include Cover It Multi-Use Complexion Fluid, 3-in-1 Define It Brow Styler, Paint It Multi-Use Matte Eye Paint, Gloss It Lip Gloss, and two new shades of its best-selling Face It Complexion Stick. Shoppable at Target, the line feels like a natural fit for the powerhouse retailer. “They've made great commitments to supporting black-owned and women-led companies; they're really at the forefront of evolving the big box/drugstore makeup experience, and it goes without saying that Gen Zs love Target,” shares Butler. With #targettok garnering over 1.2B views on TikTok, the numbers only reinforce Butler’s intuition.
The brand’s Face It Complexion Stick offers the largest shade range of foundation sticks on shelves in Target, with 26 distinct shades. “If it doesn’t look good on deeper skin tones, we won't launch it, and that's not a claim too many other brands can make,” Butler shares, nodding to the brand’s commitment to inclusivity. “Our customers are our community, and they are always top of mind for thread.”
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