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Is this 16 year old awesome or what?

American Story: From bad hair day to pay day
Bob Dotson introduces an ingenious teenage entrepreneur
By Bob Dotson
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 10:29 a.m. MT, Mon., May. 26, 2008

Today’s American Story with Bob Dotson comes from Williamstown, N.J., where a teenager thinks she’s found the key to success. It’s not a question of being dealt a good hand, she says. It’s playing a bad hand well, over and over again.

I found Jasmine Lawrence watching her mom struggle to learn how to load a high speed-labeling machine. Shampoo bottles were spinning and sticking, their labels crooked. April Lawrence hung her head in frustration

“There’s a label stuck here.”

“Oh, Lord,” mutters Jasmine. 

She is living every kid’s dream. She gets to boss her mom.

“Hold the bottle up to here.” April works for her 16-year-old daughter.

“How’s that working out?” I smile. Jasmine’s mom laughs.

“A couple of times I thought she wanted to fire me!”

It began with a bad hair day. The chemicals Jasmine used to relax her curls left her practically bald. She decided to create her own recipe, and tested it out on herself, her friends and family.

“Until I developed a hair oil that actually made my hair grow back!”

Using all natural ingredients.

“You get to lick the bowl,” she giggles.

Jasmine was just 11 years old when she began experimenting. At 13 she went off to summer camp to learn how to start a business. When it got bigger, she turned to her mom for some bucks.

“She actually had money saved up from her allowance, so it was easy to trust her,” April contends.

“I promised I’d pay her back,” says Jasmine, “and I’d do my chores. Whatever it takes.”

So, Eden Body Works was born with a $2,000 loan, using her allowance as collateral. Her little sister, Crystal, became her first employee. 

“How do you wrap this?” the 12-year-old asks, putting bottles in a box. 

“Like a gift,” says Jasmine.

At first big sister had trouble with Crystal.

“She was making too much money,” chuckles Jasmine, “and I just didn’t like it.”

Crystal quit. Started a line of organic candles. Now, Jasmine’s company markets them.

“I’m making a lot of good money,” Crystal grins, and then whispers conspiratorially. “Not as much as Jasmine, though.”

At an age when most kids are lucky getting summer jobs stacking shelves, Jasmine already has 30 products on the shelves. She’s signed a distribution agreement with Wal-Mart and plans to take her brand worldwide. She projects profits of $1 million.

Jasmine spends little. Plows most of her profits back into the business.  Eden Works World Headquarters is still in her basement.

“Why is Jasmine so successful?” I ask her mom. ‘We’ve all had lemonade stands that didn’t make a nickel.”

“She’s up at 5 in the morning. I’m literally still asleep!”

“I have about 9 or 10 alarms on my phone that go off periodically,” Jasmine points out. One to tell me to wake up. One to tell me to really wake up!”

For her 18-hour day. Of course she makes straight A’s. Shines in engineering and math.

“How do you do you explain all this to your boyfriends?”

Jasmine ducks her head. “No, no boyfriends. They really can’t handle that I don’t have a lot of time for them.”

Too busy tutoring kids in spare moments. She teaches science. 

“As a boss,” I ask mom, “how generous is she?”

“I left a six-figure job to work for her.”

April negotiates contracts, but in all things business, her daughter is in charge.

“I definitely know where the line is between mom and employee,” Jasmine says.

“Just because she’s my boss, I still have to be a parent,” April points out. “When we’re working, we’re working, and when we’re off, it’s do your chores!”

After all, Jasmine is part of a big family, with a single mom.

April says, “A lot of people say, ‘You’re a great mom and you did something really special to raise a child like that.’ But I’ve raised all my kids the same.”

Jasmine just seems born to make a buck. By fourth grade she was actually taking her Christmas toys and leasing them to other kids in school!

Batteries not included.

Want to contact the subjects in this morning’s American Story with Bob Dotson? Here’s their contact information:

Jasmine Lawrence, President and CEO
Eden Body Works
P.O. Box 876
Williamstown, NJ 08094
(856) 513-0726
http://www.edenbodyworks.com/

For more information on starting a business:

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)
120 Wall Street, 29th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 232-3333 or 1-800-FOR-NFTE
http://www.nfte.com

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24794995/


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