Teen Entrepreneur Thrives

Her mom calls her a regular teenager.

But Jasmine Lawrence, 16, of Williamstown is the founder and owner of her own natural beauty products business.

Lawrence was 13 when she launched EDEN Body Works. Since then, the company has amassed nearly $1 million in sales of its own brand of shampoo and hair conditioner.

But that’s not all. Beginning next month, EDEN Body Works’ Peppermint and Tea Tree hair care collection will begin appearing on 280 Wal-Mart shelves nationwide.

A junior at Williamstown High School, Lawrence excels in math and science in the school’s engineering academy.

In 2004, she won a contest making it possible for her to attend a two-week summer business camp sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an educational nonprofit group.

“I just thought it was something cool to do over the summer,” said Lawrence.

The experience changed her life.

“We teach kids how to run a small business,” said Steve Mariotti, 54, founder and president of NFTE, an organization that has helped 200,000 teenagers and young adults in the U.S. and in 13 countries become entrepreneurs.

But Lawrence is a cut above, according to Mariotti.

“The sky’s the limit for Jasmine,” he said. “I’ve waited 27 years to see a kid under 18 own a business that actually gets more than $25,000 in sales. What an inspiration for other kids to see that this is possible.”

Mariotti said Lawrence’s special success is due to several factors: an ability to get things done, national media exposure and a compelling story connected with her hair care products.

An accident with a chemical hair application left Lawrence nearly bald at the age of 11.

“I tried to put a ponytail in her hair, but the whole ponytail fell off,” remembers April Lawrence, the teen’s mom.

“Of course I cried,” said Lawrence, when asked to recall the incident which happened in a salon. “I was so scared and so shocked, it changed my personality completely. I became nervous and shy. I kept to myself and didn’t want people taking pictures of me.”

But Lawrence’s bad hair experience made her stronger, wiser — and now successful.

She began to read labels on hair care products.

“Some ingredients would have normal names like tea tree. And other ingredients had 20 letters,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence researched the properties of natural products such as jojoba, lavender, tea tree and rosemary. Steering clear of chemicals, she bought essential oils from natural products and made her own gentle shampoo and conditioner.

“It worked for her and it smelled good,” her mother said.

When Lawrence turned 13, her bald head was history.

That summer, she won the contest to attend NFTE’s summer business camp in New York City. Camp was fast-paced and business concepts were made easy for teenagers to understand.

Hooked on business, Lawrence decided to start her own company.

“I was so inspired and so compelled to really go for it,” she said.

But the sweet-smelling oils that she mixed in her kitchen didn’t click in her mind as a marketable product.

“Her first product was a headband with rhinestones on it. She called it “Sweat in Style,’ ” April Lawrence said with a laugh. “But then she thought about selling her hair care products. That was the aha moment for her.”

Click here to read more or here to visit EDEN Body Works, Jasmine’s store.

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