Jasmine Lawrence is not your typical 22-year-old. At 13, Lawrence became so frustrated with her chemically damaged hair that she started concocting her own all-natural hair care products. With the help of a $2,000 loan from her parents, the teenager then launched her company, EDEN BodyWorks and made over $1 million selling her products online. Now, EDEN BodyWorks products are one of the most known on the market, being sold at national retailers like Wal-Mart, Sally Beauty Supply, Walgreens and Krogers. And while she's running her own successful company, the recent Georgia Tech alumna and aspiring roboticist is also a project manager at Microsoft on the Xbox One team. EBONY.com caught up with Lawrence to learn her keys to success and discover what's next for this fast-rising star.
EBONY: We really can’t believe you began creating EDEN BodyWorks at the age of 13. Tell us how the brand came about.
Jasmine Lawrence: It really came about for my own need of natural products. I couldn’t find anything that was all-natural and that was high quality. I had done a relaxer and it did a lot of damage to my hair. After searching around, I didn’t find anything that was quite right for me, so I decided to make something.
EBONY: Where did the name come from?
JL: The Garden of Eden was this pure place in the Bible; it nourished your body, and nourished your soul. That’s what I keep in mind when making the products, those core elements.
EBONY: Was this just a “let me get in the kitchen and figure this thing out” process that led you to your brand?
JL: I knew there were natural things that I could use for my body, skin, and hair. I just started doing my research. I saved up my allowance and I had my mom take me to a natural store. I bought pure honey and other ingredients and [experimented with] the effect they each had on my hair.
EBONY: What kind of damage did you have to your hair?
JL: I had split ends, it was dry, and it didn’t grow. You name it, I had it. I had a range of different problems.
EBONY: What about your business knowledge? Where did you get most of your guidance?
JL: I went to business camp around 13, after I made my products. I learned that when you are starting a small business, you have to find a need. I didn’t know there was such a huge demand for natural hair products when I created my line. I just knew that I wasn’t the only person who had bad product experiences and needed affordable products.
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EBONY: Being a 20-something, what is your greatest challenge of being entrepreneur?
JL: My biggest challenge is moving on to the next big thing in my life—the next big milestone—and keep[ing the momentum going. I just graduated [from Georgia Tech], and with our product launch coming up, our 10-year anniversary next year -- there are things just boiling up. I really want to relax, [but I sort of can’t]. I’ve been grinding the past nine years. It becomes overwhelming when working on two careers simultaneously; I need a break.
EBONY: So do you plan on relaxing?
JL: I guess…yeah! Actually, trying something I know I am not good at helps me relax. Like a cool new hobby. When I am out of my comfort zone I am most relaxed. There’s no pressure to succeed.
EBONY: Speaking of the pressure to succeed, what do you think the biggest pitfall is that a lot of millennial’s suffer from?
JL: I think the biggest challenge is having an expectation that things are going to be easy because they are going to be done your way. I think exposure of being in the working world and working for someone else to see structure is beneficial. If you are at a job and you say, “I have to do x, y and z to get this promotion,” or you have to take these types of classes in school in order to persevere in [your] career, you know what steps to take to make success happen.
EBONY: Thanks to your new position at Microsoft, you’re a part of two different business worlds. What do you think you learned from Microsoft that you’ve applied to EDEN BodyWorks?
JL: Both companies have taught me a lot, and I definitely apply them back and forth. [At] Microsoft, I have to take into account my relationships with colleagues, and also experience from people that are doing a similar job as me. No one in my company has a similar job as me, but in Microsoft, I am constantly learning, and growing; still trying to take in that industry. I also am learning focus and discipline because the impact that I want to make doesn’t come as quickly as it does at EDEN. At EDEN, I can say, “Hey, lets make all of our labels green,“ and the labels are changed. At Microsoft it is totally different.
EBONY: What are your long term goals for EDEN?
JL: I want the whole world to experience EDEN BodyWorks. If I can inspire someone to start his or her own business, or awaken a dream they had, then that’s equal to getting rid of someone’s hair issues through my products. How I have positioned myself hasn’t been through luck, it has been through a lot of hard work, and effort. If I can teach people, and share with them how I got here, it’s the same as formulating new products.
EBONY: Any personal advice for our BF20 readers?
JL: Find your passion and live your dream. Whatever you love, you have to really give it your whole heart; no matter how exhausted you may be. Even when there’s an easier way out, you have to keep pushing.