Interview by Julene Fleurmond, Editor and Founder of DreamerENT.com
Jasmine Lawrence is a young successful entrepreneur who has definitely been soaring and growing toward her dreams. It all sprouted when she was 11-years-old, after she mixed together natural ingredients to create her own hair oils for her broken, damaged tresses. By age 13 her hair was flourishing, and she was selling her hair products to friends. At 15 she shared her story with Oprah and other major news outlets, and began discussing distribution deals with Wal-Mart – all while striving to get her homework in on time.
Now at 17-years-old, Jasmine’s natural beauty care company Eden BodyWorks has bloomed immensely, and she hopes to bring it to even greater heights. She recently graduated from high school, and is studying computer engineering at Georgia Tech. She’s also featured in the film Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon (that we wrote about in a previous post) featuring young entrepreneurs. Watch Jasmine below in a clip from the film:
Video Source: Ten9Eight Website
Jasmine spoke to Dreamer ENT about her amazing experiences, what motivates her to keep going, and how other young people can bring their dreams to fruition:
Note: There are clips from the audio interview sprinkled throughout. Make sure to read the second half of the interview below.
Jasmine On How She Got Started
Dreamer ENT: So tell me a little about your business. How did you decide to develop your own hair products?
Jasmine Lawrence: It was when I was 11-years-old. I got a relaxer that was put in my hair, and it caused almost all of it to break off. So, just loosing my hair was really devastating for me… I’m really usually an outgoing person but I turned into a really shy person… I didn’t want people to take pictures of me, I didn’t want people to look at me because I was so embarrassed all the time. I tried to make different ways to make my hair grow back whether it was taking medications or using hair treatments and things like that but they didn’t work for me, and they were just using more and more chemicals that was making my situation worse.
So what I decided to do was to just use natural things, and I did research online and in books, and I eventually developed a hair oil. It was actually after I went to NFTE that I decided to start my own business.
DE: How did you learn where to get ingredients for your products from?
JL: I started just by going to different natural stores, just getting small quantities of herbs and little essential oils in the city actually, in New York. Then I actually ventured on to the Internet and my parents let me order offline, and that’s when I actually started importing ingredients from different countries.
DE: That’s cool, for NFTE was it a summer camp you attended? (NFTE, or the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is an organization that helps young people start their own businesses).
JL: Yes, I went to a NFTE BizCamp, and it was just really inspiring.
DE: And what type of things did you learn there?
JL: Wow, I learned, oh goodness I learned so much stuff there! I learned – I learned about the different types of businesses you could be whether you’re a retailer or a wholesaler. I didn’t know that there were different types of businesses – corporations, limited liability and sole proprietorship.
I learned basically how to break down what you’re selling into units, and the difference between profit, revenue… And I learned a lot about marketing and networking. I learned about SWOT, which is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The three C’s which is customers, concept, and capital. I learned a lot and I still use my NFTE textbook today when I speak to other kids about entrepreneurship.
DE: You said you speak to other kids, do you have a program, or do you speak at schools? How is it?
Listen to Jasmine reflect on her speaking experiences in this clip:
JL: I do a lot of motivational speaking, not just to elementary school kids but to high-schoolers, colleges, and also adults. And I just really enjoy seeing that the adults and the children have the same responses afterwards. They’re both encouraged, they both have, you know, ideas running through their mind, and really all they needed was someone to tell them, ‘You can do it,’ you know, just a positive example of someone whose on the right track.
On Balancing The School Books With Business Books
DE: So your senior year of high school, I know it could be really crazy with senior trips and prom. How is it balancing your business with school?
JL: It’s been pretty difficult to balance school and the business. But over the – (laughs) well I can say over the years now – over the years it has gotten a lot easier. I usually try to schedule my events to be after school, over weekends or over long breaks, so I don’t miss too much of any of my years in school. I usually bring my homework with me and study on plane rides. And when I am in school, I make sure I pay special attention and take notes on whatever the teachers are saying, and even stay after school if I do need extra help. So I make sure my grades don’t slip just because I have to go to a different event or stay up late researching or something.
DE: So is education really important to you?
JL: Oh yeah, definitely. Education is number one for me right now. My business is great, but I definitely plan on going to college and getting a degree in engineering, and in business.
DE: That’s great, it’s great to see young people passionate about their education.
Seeds of Success…
After you started your business, how did it start picking up? Did you start selling it at your school or to your friends?
JL: When I first started I initially just sold to my family and friends, and I moved on to actually selling at my church. Then I actually went to different braiding and beauty salons and I tried to sell it to them… Eventually I got picked up by Wal-Mart, and that was, that was crazy.
DE: I read somewhere that you’re in Whole Foods?
JL: Whole Foods carries one of my lines, and I was really excited about that. And I’m just hoping to continue to expand into a lot of different major retailers so that I could be more easily accessible by everyone.
DE: Can you talk about what makes your product line unique?
JL: Well, there are a lot of things that make it different besides the fact that I made it when I was 11, but the key things that I like to focus on are the fact that my products are truly all natural. A lot of people will just state that, they’ll put one natural ingredient on there and they’ll call their product natural, but I truly, truly strive to put the most natural ingredients in there. Secondly, I try to make my products affordable because I believe everyone should be able to use natural products – they shouldn’t be 30 bucks for a bottle of shampoo. I think that’s ridiculous, it should be something that you can afford to use whenever you need it.
DE: And are they for anyone to use, anyone of any background, any type of hair?
JL: Oh yeah, that’s another thing that I’ve been trying to stress – that they’re for any age, any race, anyone out there who basically has hair. I’ve been using it on my little sister since she was born, my nephew was just born and he uses it. My grandmother whose 80 uses it. I’ve had people from all over the world, I’ve had orders from so many countries, and Europe and Asia, even to Australia, who’ve used the product and loved it.
DE: Wow that’s amazing!
Jasmine Shares Hair Care Tips
DE: So what’s your hair care regimen?
JL: (Laughs) I wrap my hair at night, and I usually wash my hair every other week. I try not to press or flat iron my hair everyday. I use my oil in the morning to get rid of any dandruff or dry scalp… I use one of my products called Hair Milk when I kind of want that natural wavy look. (Laughs) I don’t know, I’m a big fan of headbands, and side bangs.
DE: Do you have any tips for someone who wants to go natural and stop using chemicals in their hair, like what products do they use?
JL: I have a set of three products and I put them together and called it a hair care pack. It’s a shampoo, a conditioner and a hair milk, and I think those three things will definitely help anyone who wants to go natural with their hair. The shampoo and conditioner is great for helping your hair grow, cleansing it, and just restoring health back into it. The hair milk is a great moisturizer, and the shampoo and conditioner also help with dandruff, split ends, and a lot of problems that everyone has – and it’s reasonably priced. There’s two different ones that they can choose from right now, and I’m working on expanding that too.
On Her Visit to the Oprah Winfrey Show…
DE: You’ve gotten so much press from so many venues, and you’ve gotten press from where everyone wants to get press from – the Oprah Winfrey Show. How did you get to be on that show and how was your experience there? (Click here to read about the episode).
Below, listen to Jasmine talk to us about her experience on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the result it had on her business:
JL: Well, the experience was – I’ll start off by saying the experience was amazing. I had a great time while I was there, I had a great time when they actually came and filmed at my home, my family was just so excited, and Oprah and all of her people were just so welcoming, so helpful, and they just made everything so easy for me. Flying out to Chicago, and being there was just a dream – I was smiling, the whole time I was on cloud nine.
But really, I’m still even to this day not a hundred percent sure how they found me, but one of the producer’s family members, I think it was, was actually using my product, and they saw my story on the bottle, and one day I just got a call from them one day after school and they asked me to be on the show.
DE: Wow, that’s so amazing, and how was the response after the show? Did you get a lot of orders?
JL: Wow, I got thousands of orders after that show, and just the credibility of when Oprah says that you’re doing a good job, (laughs) a lot of people really respect that. And that was one of the boosts of respect that I really needed, someone to just back what I’m doing – not necessarily endorsing my product, but, just telling people my story and why I started this business. It’s one of the things that keeps the quality in my products, because I’m not just doing this business to make money, I’m actually doing it to help other people.
DE: Definitely, that’s that great thing to have as a mission – not only making money but also having a mission statement for your business.
Continue reading the rest of the interview with Jasmine below, where she talks about what she loves to do for fun, and shares some inspiration:
The Today Show also did a segment on Jasmine and her business a few months back, watch it below to see Jasmine in action at the Eden BodyWorks headquarters:
Giving Back & Having Fun
DE: You mentioned that you talk to schools, do you have any other community service ventures or anything that you enjoy doing?
JL: I’m in a club called Rebel, and its “Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lives,” it’s a youth-led anti tobacco organization, and we definitely spread the word about big tobacco, and just trying to encourage teenagers and kids not to smoke, and to also help them help their family members quit smoking. I’m in a club called Interact, and we basically just do community service, not only in our neighborhood but all around New Jersey, we do clean-ups, we do walks, fundraisers, just different things… I’d say one of those things was this past holiday season, a member of our community, their house burned down, and we collected toys and money just to help them out…
One of my favorite things is that my company does the Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk every year, it started three years ago, so that’s one of the things I love to do, we go to Pennsauken and walk around Cooper River Park, and we always raise a lot of money.
DE: Wow that’s awesome, and do you do anything for fun too?
JL: (Laughs) That is fun!
DE: (Laughs) Of course, that is fun, I mean like extracurricular activities and hobbies, do you play any sports?
Below, listen to Jasmine talk about some of her hobbies:
JL: I did play basketball, I did stop because I am ridiculously busy, but I love playing basketball. I play the harmonica, I love to crochet… I love going bowling. I’m always at the movies, whenever – every week I probably go to the movies every week. We actually have a drive-in theater near where I live, I’ve been there a few times, and it’s a really cool experience.
DE: I’ve never been to one of those.
JL: Wow, I would definitely go, because the screens are huge (laughs). But, I mean I have a big group of friends, we hang out all the time. We do lots of different things – I had a tea party in December, we do Christmas in, like October, and just lots of different cool things.
Jasmine On Inspiring Others
DE: That’s awesome. So, have you inspired any of your friends to be entrepreneurs or to start their own businesses?
Jasmine tells us about her neighbor Adele who was inspired by entrepreneurship:
JL: Actually, my next-door neighbor actually started her own business, and I’m so proud of her, and it’s called, I’ll tell you, it’s called Adele’s Literacy Library, (www.adelesliteracylibrary.org) and she’s collecting books and encouraging reading in youth, and I’m just extremely proud of her. She just had and event, I want to say in December and she collected over 180 books.
JL: Yeah, and she’s only, I want to say that she’s 13! 13, and she donated all of those books to our local school.
DE: Have you encouraged her to seek out NFTE and different types of resources?
JL: Oh yeah, I definitely want her to go through the NFTE program, since she’s next door to me I always tell her about the different events that I go through, and if I do have NFTE events then I have no problem definitely bring her with me, just to experience the networking and hopefully one day you’ll be interviewing her.
DE: Yeah, definitely, I love hearing stories about young people who are doing things in the community, that’s awesome!
DE: That’s great, and what advice do you have for other young people to start their own projects – it doesn’t have to be a business, what advice would you give them?
Jasmine gives inspiration to other young people on finding and following their passions:
JL: My advice for other teens, other kids is to just find your passion and live your dream, and I’ve really been going with this for a while now. I really think that if you find something that you love to do, you can do it for the rest of your life, you know. Whether you make money off of it or not…
Whether it’s going to college or just any goal you have for yourself, you have to have a passion and a motivation, like deep inside yourself that no one else can give you. And if you can find that about something that you really, really love then you’ll make the best of it, you’ll be amazing at it. All you have to do is just stay dedicated, stay focused and just keep your mind on what you really want to do.
DE: Definitely, passion and purpose are definitely two great things.
Reflecting & Preparing for the Future
DE: And is there any thing you wish you knew when you started your business or anything you would do differently?
JL: I’m actually pretty happy with the way that things went, I wish I knew more about hair care, like I wish I could go to hair care school, you know at 13 I wish I could go to college for, I guess it would be considered cosmetology. Definitely when I go to college I want to study engineering, I want to learn more about natural ingredients, just scientific things… There’s a lot I can read about in books and things like that but I want to be taught, I want to have a lab and do projects in school about it… But I definitely have a hunger for learning and it will never be filled.
DE: Definitely, and what other plans do you have for the future, do you plan on starting other businesses, or what career plans do you have?
Jasmine talks about her big plans for the future and shares her favorite experiences:
JL: I want to definitely grow the business and have a facial care line, a men’s line and a kid’s line, and I want to get into a lot more retailers, not only in the U.S. but I want to branch into Canada, and also Europe… I just want to go completely international with my business, I want to be more commonly known, you know like Neutrogena, Pantene and L’Oreal, I want to become one of those big names pretty soon… I know that it takes years but I want to do it now (laughs).
I want to not only encourage people to use natural hair care products, but I want to encourage people to just live all natural lifestyles: eating healthier foods, exercising, just lots of different things like that. I want to be really – I want to be one of those go-to people when people think about natural products and just, nature.
I want to go back to school and study culinary arts and I want to do – have you ever seen that show Ace of Cakes?
DE: Yeah, oooh I love that show…
JL: Yeah, I definitely want to go back to school and learn how to do that – I think that is amazing! And I want to get a degree in computer engineering and maybe work for the FBI or CIA doing artificial intelligence. (Laughs) All these dreams are crazy but, I don’t know, I want to do it.
DE: Yeah, I’m sure you will, it’s good to dream big. What have been the best experiences you’ve had so far in your company?
JL: Um, honestly being on Oprah was a really good one, – oh wow, there’s so many! Everytime that I get to travel somewhere and meet a new group of people, it’s just so priceless, all of the friends that I make, all of the celebrities that I’ve gotten to meet… it was a really great thing to write on your college application, I could tell you that.
DE: So what would you say motivates you and drives you to do what you do, who or what motivates you?
Jasmine shares what motivates her to keep going:
JL: It’s really what drove me was what happened to me and just not wanting anyone else to go through what I had to go through, just to be able to help other people, honestly. When I get comments on my blogs or emails from people who use my products and it really helped them because they were balding or had alopecia or they were a chemo patient and now their hair is starting to grow back healthier – just to be able to read those things and hear from those people just really keeps me going everyday.
And I spoke to my school’s middle school, and everyone in the class that I spoke to they wrote me little letters and I had them laminated and put into a book, and I like to flip through that every now and again.
DE: That’s really cool that you have a lasting impact on people. What would you say to a young person who maybe went through a difficult situation, what would you say to them about their dreams and could their dreams come true if they didn’t believe that their dreams could come true?
Jasmine gives more inspiration on reaching your dreams:
JL: I would definitely tell them no matter where you came from, no matter how old or how young you are anything you want to do is possible – anything at all. There are no limits to what people can do, they just truly have to believe in something, because if you want it enough, you’ll be able to get it. If you do everything in your power to make something happen, it will. I truly think that it will.
DE: Definitely, and is there anything else you’d like to say, or how can people purchase your products – where can they find you?
JL: Oh yeah, definitely, you can find me at EdenBodyWorks.com
DE: Thanks so much for letting me talk to you today, it was great to talk to you.
JL: Thanks, you have a good day.
Jasmine’s story is truly inspiring, and we’re sure she’ll be achieving even more of her dreams; and so can YOU!