Founder, Eden Organix, Highland Park, N.J., Age: 35
Valerie Mason-Robinson was born to sell. Her father, who spent 20 years in sales at General Motors Corp., taught her to navigate corporate America and her mother bequeathed to her a never-say-die attitude. “My mother is always telling me ‘that’s not good enough. I know you can do better,’” Mason-Robinson says. “Her drive and just insatiable perfectionism to a certain extent drives me.”
After nine years as a top-performing sales representative for industrial giants Cargill and Mettler Toledo, Mason-Robinson combined her father’s know-how, her mother’s moxie and her own expertise to launch Eden Organix, an eco-conscious beauty company and spa featuring environment-friendly materials, from recycled glass and bamboo to water-conserving toilets.
Mason-Robinson’s undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and summer research in cosmetics and detergents at Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduced her to the science of skin care. She drafted a business plan while studying management at the University of Maryland, University College; became a licensed esthetician; and spent two years cleansing, waxing and counseling clients at Marriott Princeton’s Spa at Forrestal for $10 an hour to learn the business from the ground up.
“It was humbling because I gave up a comfortable income, bragging rights and notoriety,” she says. “But as the plan really started to come together and I saw what worked at Marriott and what didn’t work, I started developing the [Eden Organix] brand and eating organic and it became life to me.”
Quote: “Success is a journey, not a destination.”
What actress should play you in a movie: Vivica A. Fox
What artist would you go on tour with: Tina Turner or Israel Houghton
Favorite sports teams: Chicago Bulls, Bears and White Sox
First car: Geo Prizm
First job: Cargill Inc. Salt Division
Number of countries visited: 14
Last movie: Madagascar 2