How The Founder Of EDEN BodyWorks Balances Being A CEO With Her 9-5 At Facebook

BOSS UP

When I asked Jasmine Lawrence to describe herself in one word, she paused to think, but a few short seconds later she said, without a flinch, "Amazing."


Up until that point, I'd been trying to find the words to describe how this fiercely confident Black woman was able to accomplish so much by the age of 28. She launched her first company EDEN BodyWorks at just thirteen after experiencing a personal hair loss crisis and then attending NFTE BizCamp, a student entrepreneurship program, where she was equipped with the tools that would help her find a way to create and sell a product that solved a hair problem she knew many like her needed. EDEN is now celebrating its 15th anniversary, with a repertoire of accomplishments, retail partners like Target, CVS, and Sally Beauty Supply, a loyal beauty community, and global experiences supporting the journey.

But, more interestingly, Jasmine is not only a beauty entrepreneur. After graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Computer Science, she's gone on to build a thriving career in tech at powerhouse companies like Microsoft and most currently, Facebook.

To top it off, she's not looking to quit either anytime soon.

What's the road to amazing look like? How has Jasmine been able to boldly and unapologetically float between two worlds - without sacrificing who she is and how her natural passion for solution-seeking shows up in the world? For Jasmine, this is important because she doesn't "always want to be the first or the only person that are doing things that are impressive." The word "amazing" comes with the desire to show other women that look like her that they, too, can do great things.

xoNecole spoke to Jasmine about her road to flourishing in two careers, the powers of being entrepreneurially fluid, when being multi passionate can be advantageous in the workplace, why more Black women should consider STEM careers, and whether "having it all" is ever really possible.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What has contributed the most to your business success?

Consistency. It doesn't mean you never change. It means you have a foundational understanding of who you are. At EDEN, we know our vision, mission, what we want to be known for, and what kind of impact we want to have in people's lives. That remains consistent no matter who is on my team. If you don't align with our mission and values, this isn't the brand you want to be part of.

It was also about choosing wisely what we were going to invest our time in. You can get quickly burned out emotionally or financially [by] going to every single hair/trade show and accepting every distribution deal for every mom and pop shop and everyone who wants to carry your products. It's very draining. Strategic growth and saying no to the opportunities that are not going to give you the return on investment that you really need with your limited time and other resources is important.

Courtesy of Jasmine Lawrence

"Strategic growth and saying no to the opportunities that are not going to give you the return on investment that you really need with your limited time and other resources is important."

How did you manage going to college and running a beauty company?

The work that I do with EDEN and the work I do in tech are very similar. They require the same set of strengths. I wanted to be an engineer before I lost my hair. I always wanted to be a builder, creator, and inventor of things and solve people's problems. When I lost my own hair and needed something for myself, I used my knowledge of science and the scientific method to create different formulas. All of those things I learned from my passion for science and creating things.

I knew college was going to be a challenge. I took preventative measures before officially moving to Atlanta. Building the team that I have today was part of that exercise. We took a time out for a year in the late 2000s to reassess who was going to be on our board and who's going to be on our team and run day-to-day operations. We had to automate some things that we were previously doing manually. I find a way to have the best of both worlds and make sacrifices I'm comfortable with.

In our world, we’re told you can’t have it all. Your story shows that it is possible to have your foot in different industries. How do you do it?

Having a computer degree helped me understand how stuff is being built and my role in making sure that it's built ethically and that it is accessible. It opened my mind to an entire career path that is sometimes intimidating and challenging. I love to be that bridge between people and tech. Even in the Black community or women's community - I like to let [people] know this is something you can strive towards. I'm not some crazy unicorn that just has a genius mind. It's something I've worked hard for and sought to understand and have been able to make an impact by pursuing although it may be nontraditional for someone with my background.

I'm super hesitant to say we can have it all. It gives an unrealistic expectation that you are going to be 100% fulfilled in every area that you invest your time in. It's not an accurate description. It wanes and waxes. You're in seasons of pouring more and more into your business, job, self, or family - it takes a while for you to settle into a balance that makes sense. It's hard to want more than one thing.

There's a conscious focus on "Does this matter to me? Is this worth my time?" You can have a lot - but it will be to varying degrees of satisfaction and investment based on what works for you personally. If you like doing your full-time job every day, it's okay. It's okay to not have a side hustle. If you're drawn in a different direction, you should pursue it.

Courtesy of Jasmine Lawrence

"I like to let [people] know this is something you can strive towards. I'm not some crazy unicorn that just has a genius mind. It's something I've worked hard for and sought to understand and have been able to make an impact by pursuing although it may be nontraditional for someone with my background."

What key roles do you outsource? 

Operational leadership. My Vice President drives day-to-day and leads our team. That is the core role. We are two opposite heartbeats. We have to stay in sync and connected. Public relations and design are the other two roles where I am so busy doing the work, it's hard for me to tell the story of what's happening as well. Having a great PR team or point person who can find the right opportunities and have the brand show up in ways that make sense for us and create innovative things that align with the brand identity is crucial. With design, it is incredible [to have] someone who can maintain continuity between your brand identity but also challenge you to grow and modernize.

What’s it like working in tech as an employee but also being a CEO?

The main challenges I've had are when my coworkers find out and there's that sense of envy. Or, they'll ask me rude questions like, "Why are you even here? Why would you show up every day when you're doing this and that with your own company? Why would you be a slave to the man when you have the freedom to be your own boss?" Or, they think if I do slip up on something or something is late that I'm distracted by this other thing I have going on.

On the light side, they like to brag on me as much as I like to brag on me. Microsoft loved that their top project manager was also a CEO and that I took that entrepreneurial mindset and applied that to my work. They love that I have those natural leadership tendencies. I know what it's like to lead something that personally matters to me. The opportunities that I'm trusted with are greater because of the assumptions about what my skills are. They'd love for me to bring that same excitement, passion, and drive to the mission and goals of their organization. There's a lot of recognition and opportunity for someone who has been able to do so much in such a little amount of time.

What does success look like for you?

It's so transient because there is always something more. From a brand perspective, we're growing the EDEN BodyWorks team. We're celebrating an amazing milestone - 15 years! Right now, we're in a period of gratefulness and thankfulness and really reflecting. We're really trying to take a moment to pause, reflect, and recenter and imagine what the next 15 years will be like - and how we'll change and how the industry will change. For EDEN, success will look like being able to publically share a plan of what the future looks like for us.

In tech, I'm making a pivot to working on my first non-hardware product. I've worked on Xbox, HoloLens, robots and artificial intelligence. Most recently, I've worked on Portal at Facebook. I just switched over to a team called Social Good, which is focused on making Facebook a positive force in the world. Our goal is to try to solve the problem to make sure the world has a safe and sustainable supply of blood. It's an interesting space where probably if you looked at my background, you'd be like "Why is she working in the health space?"

I was drawn to that in the same way I was drawn to start EDEN BodyWorks to make shampoo to help women understand the way you look is not a limiting factor on your trajectory in life. You can awaken, empower and change who these people think they can be or are allowed to be by providing the solution.

To learn more about Jasmine and how she's paving the way in the technology and beauty sectors, connect with her on Instagram @edensjasmine.

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