A High School Senior Sells Into Wal-Mart

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jasmine Lawrence started her hair and body care products business when she was 13. She describes her speedy path to success

The Entrepreneur: Jasmine Lawrence, 17

Background: After chemical hair-care products caused much of her hair to fall out when she was 11, Lawrence began to research natural alternatives. Two years later, she started the hair care line Eden Body Works with $2,000 in seed money from her parents, after being selected to attend a business camp sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (BusinessWeek.com, 10/5/07). Since then, the teen has been featured on the Today show and Oprah. Her business has also been nominated by businessweek readers to our annual Best Entrepreneurs 25 and under roundup (BusinessWeek, 9/8/08) for the past two years.

The Company: Based in her family's basement in Williamstown, N.J., Eden Body Works has grown to 17 products that are sold online and via brick-and-mortar retailers including Whole Foods (WFMI). In 2007, Lawrence, then a junior at Williamstown High School, negotiated a deal to sell her products at Wal-Mart Store (WMT) nationwide.

Revenues: Over $1 million

Her Story: As if being a teenager weren't hectic enough—try being a teen and a CEO. That is the challenge that I am faced with every day. It all started four years ago, when I decided to start a company to make all-natural hair and body care products. Now I am managing national distribution chains and international online sales. At the same time, I am also trying to have a life. My day starts at 5 a.m. After school, I head straight to my room for an hour power nap, then pry myself awake for homework. On a normal day, after finishing my schoolwork, I answer e-mails, do interviews, and have a meeting or two with my four employees (one of whom is my mom—she is the head of business development).

On a not-so-normal day, I may be packing to take a trip somewhere across the country to speak at a school, a church, or a business event. At some of these events, I am surrounded by business people wearing suits and ties who are twice my age, if not more.


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