Founded over one decade ago, Menard's company, Beurre Shea Butter Skincare, continues to expand its offerings, which include everything from cleansers for those with eczema to oils that tend to babies' skin.
Shirley Menard
Credit: Courtesy of Sam J. Photos

Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

As the founder of Beurre Shea Butter Skincare, Shirley Menard has created an entire line of products that are meant to soothe and protect skin with quality ingredients—shea butter being the star of the show. The business wouldn't be possible today without the helping hand of one of Menard's law colleagues from Ghana, who she met over one decade ago. Before opening her business, she worked as an entertainment attorney and artist manager and was gifted a brick of shea butter from a co-worker who wanted to partner on a beauty business.

"She mentioned that European companies flocked to Ghana to source shea butter for their products and wanted me to work on the business side of what would be our company while she worked on creating product," Menard says. At the time, the now-founder of the skin care line wasn't familiar with the beauty industry, so she ended up passing on the opportunity—but she did keep the shea butter.

In two years' time, Menard ended up replacing all of her lotions and creams with shea butter and oils she had around the house, like olive and lavender. "Family and friends loved what I was doing and complimented my clear, smooth skin," she recalls. "They coaxed me into sharing the benefits of this amazing product with the masses, so I started researching everything about shea butter—different formulations and uses, as well as sales, marketing, and promotional strategies in the beauty space." Her passion for shea butter grew into a brand: Beurre Shea Butter Skincare.  

beurre body oil
Credit: Courtesy of Beurre Shea Butter Skincare

A Fresh Start

Beurre officially became a business in July 2011; Menard did the paperwork, launched the website, developed a logo, and with the help of a loved one, designed the product line. "My best friend, who's a pharmacist, explained the science of plants, oils, and powders, so I painstakingly taught myself how to work with shea butter, which includes whipping and melting," Menard says, noting that she also discovered more about formula development (which led to the brand's signature light, creamy shea butter texture) and manipulating plant-based ingredients. "I also felt that Beurre should be clean, vegan, and cruelty-free, because as I studied ingredients in popular products on the market, they weren't really natural and contained a lot of ingredients that were used more to preserve the product's shelf life rather than help address specific skin conditions."

While she worked on Beurre on and off over the course of several years, she didn't personally consider it a business until a friend invested in the company in February 2017. "Specifically, he said, 'I believe in you,'" she says. "It was so simple, but for me, it was everything." This vote of confidence was the official launch of Beurre Shea Butter Skincare. The same year, she used those invested funds to participate in the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) in August; the Beurre Vanilla Shea Butter Body Cream ($28, placed third in the show's "Best Body Butter" category, proving, in Menard's eyes, that her brand could go the distance.

Building a Shea Butter Brand

After participating in IBE in 2017, Menard spent the next two years attending local street fairs and festivals to get feedback from customers and build a client base. "Along the way, I would use this engagement to tweak my formulations, eliminate some products (my sage and lemongrass body butter got no love) and perfect my cold-pressed technique," she says. 

As Beurre evolved, the founder began to expand the line by adding herbal infusions with healing and soothing properties to target eczema, such as in the Beurre Shea Butter Eczema Cream ($28, and Beurre Eczema Body Wash ($23, She also focused on formulating belly creams (Beurre Shea Butter Belly Cream ($28, for pregnant people, and lighter lotions and oils for babies, like the Beurre Baby Oil ($24, All of these formulas were borne out of customers' requests, and kept Menard on her toes. The skin care professional continued to grow her business by creating Beurre's social media accounts and enlisting a PR team to track even more testimonials and reviews from bloggers to add to her portfolio. 

All-Natural Ingredients

Intention and purpose go into the creation of every natural, vegan, and cruelty-free product in the Beurre Shea Butter Skincare collection, as these are Menard's principles for self-care. "Our ingredients come from natural sources—shea butter sourced from Ghana and Uganda, plant-based essential oils (lavender and vanilla), and carrier oils derived from natural seeds (apricot kernel, grapeseed, jojoba) that are infused with a selection of herbs from an organic herb farm in Lancaster, Penn.," she says. 

Each herb and oil is selected to address specific skin issues. Comfrey blended with sunflower oil hydrates the skin for those with eczema, lavender and chamomile are soothing for delicate baby skin, and rose geranium infused in olive oil tends to fade stretch marks from pregnancy. 

beurre shea butter body cream
Credit: Courtesy of Beurre Shea Butter Skincare

A Passion for the People

Menard continues to evolve her brand by catering to the greater good of her community and customer base—and partners with and supports Black-owned, women-owned, and health-based businesses every chance she gets. For example, she donates the proceeds from the Beurre Lavender Shea Butter Body Cream ($28, to cancer research, as many of her own family members (who are now cancer free) used this particular cream and noted that it helped them with their dry skin during chemotherapy. 

She wants Beurre Shea Butter Skincare to be synonymous with self-care in a genuine way, so she not only prioritizes making organic formulations, but keeping her footprint small, too. "Everything from mailing boxes to eventually bottles and jars will be biodegradable by 2023," she says. "Then, Beurre will be truly and authentically dedicated to offering the best natural skin care line on the market."   

Passion is at the center of Menard's work, and she recommends the same for any business owner. "It grounds you, leads you to be creative, and encourages you to press on when things don't go well," she says. "When the business part of things don't line up on a particular day, I usually just create another batch of vanilla shea butter or play with a new formulation. It's my happy place and it reminds me why I continue to pursue the next phase." The upcoming chapter of her brand includes growing it globally with a luxury face care line (coming this fall!) and bringing four new products to the slate.


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