While many teens are focused on prom, new cars and graduation, 17-year-old Jasmine Lawrence from Waynestown, NJ, is developing and expanding her million-dollar company, EDEN BodyWorks.
Created when Lawrence was just 13-years-old, her business focuses on the desire for natural hair and skin products. She founded the company after attending a camp sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Lesson 1: Find your niche
Lawrence created Eden BodyWorks after a bad experience with hair chemicals at age 11. Her goal was to create products that were natural and that actually worked. “I decided to make my own when I couldn’t find anything that would truly work for me that was all natural,” Lawrence says. “I also didn’t just want something that was natural; I wanted something that I could afford to continue to buy.”
Even though she started young, Lawrence didn’t really feel intimidated launching her business. “I think I was just naive because at 13, the only people telling me I couldn’t do it were people I didn’t know; my family was supporting me 100 percent,” she says. “So because I didn’t know the legal and financial risks of starting a business, I wasn’t so much concerned with stuff stopping me. I just went in head first.”
It’s a good thing she did. Last year, Eden BodyWorks surpassed $1 million in revenue, and her products are currently sold in Whole Foods and Wal-Mart stores.
Lesson 2: When a door closes, there’s almost always a window
The story of getting her products into Wal-Mart is a story that Lawrence considers one of the more humorous moments of her career.
“I was flown to Texas for Black Enterprise magazine’s Teen Entrepreneur of the Year Conference. My two competitors for finalists were one girl who made bumper stickers and another girl who made cakes and baked goods; and by then, I had already had a full line of 15 to 20 products,” Lawrence says. “My line was pretty solid and my customer base had grown to 20,000.
“I thought I was a shoe-in; I totally thought I was going to win this contest. And I actually lost to the bumper sticker girl,” she says, laughing.
But, as fate would have it, two Wal-Mart representatives approached her as she was leaving. Lawrence worked with them on a nationwide contract to place Eden BodyWorks in Wal-Mart stores.
“[It] has grown from 10 stores to 300 stores, now to 1,000 stores later this year, so I’m just glad I was nominated [for the competition], and I was able to be in the right place at the right time” Lawrence says.
After getting over the initial shock, she realized how great an opportunity this was.
“Now, in our economy, they’re doing so great. What they stand for, what they represent—affordable, quality products—that’s exactly what I want to offer,” she says. “And Wal-Mart is a place where everybody shops no matter what ethnicity they are, so I know I can reach my large customer base.”
For the record, Eden BodyWorks’ products are created for everyone, including men and women and every ethnicity.
“It’s great to have an outlet that has such a diversified customer base that I want to have.”
Lesson 3: Balance is key
With Lawrence still in high school (she’s a senior now), it can be difficult for her to balance school, her business and try to have some kind of social life. So how does she manage it all?
“A lot of it is just dedication and staying focused on what I need to get done,” Lawrence says. She has alarms she sets throughout the day to keep her on track and makes sure to include fun, social events, as well as business items, on her calendar.
“I won’t schedule an interview when there’s a party,” Lawrence says. “Things [like a calendar] help me keep my life balanced. It helps me live a full, as close to normal, life as possible.”
Lesson 4: Be proud of your achievements, but don’t let it go to your head
After all of the attention and accolades, you might think that Lawrence would have an issue with remaining down to earth. Instead, she remains modest about all that she’s done.
“I know that it wasn’t all me,” Lawrence says about staying humble. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without God or my family just helping me out and being there for me.”
She says she started this business not to become a millionaire, but to help people with their hair issues and body care needs. “I knew I wasn’t the only person,” Lawrence says. “I was blessed with something I wanted to share with the world. Starting a business was just the best way for me to be able to help other people.”
Lesson 5: Embrace your success, but always strive for more
One of Jasmine’s biggest achievements is being able to see her business run itself. “It’s made me really happy to see how far I’ve come from almost five years ago,” she says. “I can’t believe it’s been so long, I mean, just to be continuing selling and making a profit is amazing to me.”
She doesn’t, however, feel right saying that she’s finally made it. “Usually when people get to the number one spot or they feel as though they are on top, they stop striving for more and more,” she says. “And I just feel like my company, and myself as a person, have so much more that I can reach for and so much more I have left to accomplish before I truly can sit back and say, ‘that’s enough.’”
Lesson 6: Find your passion and live your dream
That’s Lawrence’s motto. She has never worked for anyone but herself, and she has never hated her career—something that gives her motivation to keep going.
“I want to encourage other people to do the same thing,” she says. “I want other people to go for what they really want to do, no matter who believes in them; as long as they believe in themselves, anything is possible.”
Lesson 7: Stay focused and give it all you got
To become a successful entrepreneur, Lawrence advises individuals to remain focused and give everything they have. “[They] have to have a passion towards it and love what they do because it’s going to get really tough; it’s not going to always be easy,” she says. “You’re going to have to wait for things…and there are other things you can’t just sit around and wait for them to happen, you have to make them happen.
“You have to network with people and not be shy and be proud of your business. You also have to try and be the best in your field. You have to know your competition and what makes you different and what sets you apart and exemplify that.
“I could give so much advice, but it’s really just do whatever you love, whatever it is.”
Check out Eden BodyWorks products at edenbodyworks.net.
Photo Credit: Brian Branch Price of www.bbpfotos.com.