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Williamstown Wunderkind

March 31, 2009

The CEO of Eden Body Works is looking ahead�and that�s just to her high school graduation.

Williamstown Wunderkind

The CEO of Eden Body Works is looking ahead—and that’s just to her high school graduation.

By Christine Esposito
Associate Editor

Like any chief executive officer of a small personal care company, Jasmine Lawrence is dealing with several things at once—retail contracts, new product development, marketing plans. But she has other pressing matters too, like homework, prom and exams. Plus, did we mention she’s waiting for an acceptance letter from Princeton University to show up in her mailbox?

That’s right; Ms. Lawrence is a senior in high school—and president and CEO of Eden Body Works, a natural personal care company she started in 2005 in her parent’s Williamstown, NJ home.

In the Beginning

Ms. Lawrence’s road from everyday kid to CEO began when a salon relaxer broke off almost all of her hair. The devastated 11 year-old began researching the chemicals in the personal care products she had been using and started looking on the Internet for natural alternatives. She developed a natural hair oil, began using it on herself, and found that it worked.

But it wasn’t until a stint at a National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship summer business camp in New York City that Ms. Lawrence decided to start her own company. At 13, she invested her allowance and a $2000 loan from her parents to create her company, which is named after the Garden of Eden in the Bible.

Although she was young, Ms. Lawrence was never intimidated when it came to dealing with suppliers. “I never told them what my age was. I put on my grown-up voice and said ‘this is Jasmine Lawrence, CEO of Eden Body Works’—or I emailed them,” she said.

Starting as a web-based operation, Eden Body Works has generated sales of more than $1 million since its inception. Today, Ms. Lawrence’s products—natural hair and body care products and aromatherapy candles—can also be found in salons and at retail giant Wal-Mart. Online orders have come from as far away as Australia, India and Europe.

Not bad for a kid whose real love is math and computers. “I love school,” she said. “I know I don’t sound like a typical teenager.”

She’s right.Ms. Lawrence—who has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was named by Business Week as one of America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs—seems to have the acumen of a weathered industry veteran.

“Sometimes you can’t trust your suppliers to make sure you are getting ‘natural,” she told Happi about her quest to find a lab that would test materials to insure their integrity. Ms. Lawrence does not use alcohol, petroleum, beeswax mineral oils or sodium sulfates in any of her products, which include Lavender Oatmeal Bliss soap, Peppermint Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner and Jojoba All Natural Temple balm, which moisturizes and treats the hairline to prevent weak hair from breaking or thinning.

What’s Next?

Aside from maintaining her GPA in the Engineering Academy at Williamstown High, Ms. Lawrence is working on a new product (temporary hair color) and has ideas for future launches (products of men and children). Yet, she admitted, “now may not be the best time to expand,” although she does plan to continue running Eden Body Works after she enters college this fall.

Having her mom as a full-time employee should help keep things running smoothly for this wunderkind, who herself is bit surprised by how fast Eden Body Works has grown.

“I never expected it to get so huge,” she said.

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