Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Jessica Sanders

Red Banner with HOF EpisodeIn this episode, we interview Jessica Sanders, an Area Manager in North Carolina. Jessica, who is a veteran of the US Army, details how she discovered her calling later in life and went back to college and cosmetology school when she turned 40. She also passes along advice to others trying to overcome obstacles and realize their dreams.

Chad Jordan and Jessica Sanders holding a microphone

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
July 1, 2019 Jessica Sanders Area Manager Chasing down dreams no matter the obstacles

Each episode of the Podcast is also available on iTunes and the Google Play store. 

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Chad Jordan: Hey, welcome everybody. This is Chad Jordan, Director of Marketing for Digital Services at Sport Clips. This is another edition of our Hall of Fame podcast. And what we're doing with these podcast episodes, is we're really going around the country and unpacking the different stories that make up Sport Clips, the unique approaches to life, and career, and all that stuff as it unfolds. Today, I have with me a very special guest and I'm going to have her introduce herself.

Jessica Sanders: Thank you, Chad. My name is Jessica Sanders. I am an area manager for Team Bailey out of the Charlotte, North Carolina region. We have, currently, four stores.

Chad Jordan: What, four stores ... You're an area manager. What's your background? Are you stylist by trade, or ...

Jessica Sanders: When I normally share with my clients, when I have this conversation, is that this is my third career. My first career, I spent 10 years in the army. I was a construction engineer for six of those 10 years, and then realized that construction is probably not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I better come up with a plan B.

Chad Jordan: You did this midstream while in the service?

Jessica Sanders: I did, yeah. It was about some good space and timing that happened. And then I spent 10 years in, and got out in 2003 after my mom passed away. Not because of my mom passing away, but that I was-

Chad Jordan: You were in the army during 9/11?

Jessica Sanders: I was. I was actually pregnant with my youngest son.

Chad Jordan: Were are you here? Were you stationed in the States at the time?

Jessica Sanders: I was stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I was getting ready for work. I was about seven months pregnant, six months pregnant. I remember coming out, looking at the news. We immediately went on lockdown and I was transferred over to building one, which is the main building on post. I was put in a position down in the basement where I had to check all the IDs of all of the major players on post, making sure that people who were in the meeting rooms like what we're sitting in today, they were authorized to be there.

Chad Jordan: Were supposed to be there.

Jessica Sanders: Yes.

Chad Jordan: Because no one at the time ... We didn't know what was going on.

Jessica Sanders: We sure didn't.

Chad Jordan: Where the attacks were coming from, and what more could be looming-

Jessica Sanders: I'm actually from that area originally.

Chad Jordan: Okay. That was going to be my next question, because there is a little bit of an accent, but maybe you just picked that up from being in North Carolina, but tell me where you're from.

Jessica Sanders: I am originally from New Jersey-

Chad Jordan: Jersey girl.

Jessica Sanders: I am from the Jersey Shore. There's a little show if you've ever heard of it-

Chad Jordan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just a little [crosstalk 00:02:33] .

Jessica Sanders: I'm actually from where that is taped. That is taped in Seaside Heights, which is just over the bridge from Toms River, New Jersey. That's where I graduated from high school. That brought a lot of mixed emotions. You're trying to put in phone calls, you're trying to talk to your family, and your phone lines were down-

Chad Jordan: You probably had friends and family that worked in the city-

Jessica Sanders: ... friends and family. Yes. It was a scary time. It was a scary time to be a soldier, even though I was pregnant.

Chad Jordan: That's what I'm saying. That's just crazy timing that ... Why had you joined the army? Had there been a father or a relative or anybody?

Jessica Sanders: I have family members who were in the military, but I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that college wasn't for me, and so ... I thought I was from a small town. I am not from a small town, and so-

Chad Jordan: You've seen some small towns now-

Jessica Sanders: Now I have. Yes. I dated a guy and he went in the army and I'm thinking, "You know what? If this guy can do it, I know I can do it." I signed on the dotted line at 17. My mom had to co-sign for me.

Chad Jordan: I was going to say, yeah. I didn't think that was-

Jessica Sanders: My mom co-signed for me. [crosstalk 00:03:40] Then I graduated in ... I never have a hard time remembering the two most important dates in Sport Clips history, which is when our first store opened in 1993, because that's when I graduated from high school. And the first franchise was in 1995, because that's when my oldest son was born. I always sound like I know all the Sport Clips trivia, but-

Chad Jordan: it was nice of Sport Clips to time everything around the major events in your life.

Jessica Sanders: Absolutely. Around me. That's really what it is.

Chad Jordan: Right. Exactly.

Jessica Sanders: I spent 10 years in the military. I got out of the military and I did what most soldiers do, is I transitioned into a management position. I did office management and some production scheduling.

Chad Jordan: Where is this?

Jessica Sanders: I got out of the military and I transitioned to Savannah, Georgia. Cheaper cost of living, nice warm weather. I was there for about-

Chad Jordan: Had you been stationed in Fort Benning, or anywhere around there, or-

Jessica Sanders: No. Through a series of unfortunate events, and Lemony Snicket, I followed a gentleman who led me to that area-

Chad Jordan: Savannah, Georgia. All right. Yeah.

Jessica Sanders: Savannah, Georgia, five years, lots of different jobs. I worked for large corporations. I worked for small mom and pops, then I moved to the Charlotte area and I did the same thing, I stayed in management. It was comfortable. I'm a people person. Talk to a tree if it stands there long enough. And this is where the transition comes again. My oldest son was getting ready to graduate from high school, and I gave him that great speech that parents give. "The world is your oyster, and you find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." And then I realized I was a hypocrite, that I was doing what was safe, I was doing what I knew, and I was really building other people's businesses that weren't going to benefit me. I made-

Chad Jordan: There's no long-term benefit for you-

Jessica Sanders: No long-term benefit. I made a very hard choice, and I went back to school-

Chad Jordan: When is [inaudible 00:05:50]-

Jessica Sanders: He graduated in 2014. 2014 he left for college, and I made the choice to go back to school. This is also the year that I turned 40, and it was a major milestone for me. I didn't feel like I had any direction. I didn't really know what my course was going to be, but I knew I had to make a change.

Chad Jordan: Not too many 40 year-olds probably in the freshmen class, or whatever class you were enrolled in at the time, but ... Is still in the Charlotte area, or-

Jessica Sanders: I'm in Gas tonia, North Carolina-

Chad Jordan: Little Gas tonia.

Jessica Sanders: About 30 miles outside of Charlotte, for those of you that are not familiar with it. I go to the community college, I enroll, and I realize, "Sister, you're getting ready to do this all over again. The very thing that you're trying to get away from you're doing, you're going to find you a cubicle and set up shop."
I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine, and I said, "When you think of me, what do you see?" These are people that I know for 20 plus years, people who know the good side of me, the bad side of me, the ugly side of me, the side with makeup, the side without makeup, and I said, "What do you see?" And she said, "Something with people." And I said, "Well, thanks for narrowing it down." And she said, "Well, what about being a fitness instructor?" And I said, "Oh girl, I'm getting tired just thinking about that, getting out of breath. She said, "Well, what about writing a book?" And I said, "Well, what am I going to write about? What not to do at 40?" And she joked and she said, "Well, I'd buy it." And I said, "Well, okay. Well that's not going to help me right now, because I need a job. I need a career. I need something. I'm starting all over from scratch." And she said, "What about hair?" I said, "What about hair?"
For those of you that are listening to the podcast, I have very, very short hair.

Chad Jordan: They'll see the picture [crosstalk 00:07:43]-

Jessica Sanders: I have very, very short hair. I had longer hair at the time, but I said, "I've had short hair for about 15 years, and I have boys. I don't even know anything about hair." And she said to me, "I'm pretty sure it's just like a mechanic. They'll teach you everything you need to know." I say, "Okay," and it's this thing that's roaming around in my spirit, rolling in the back of my mind. I get off the phone, and it won't let me go. I make a phone call, and I reach out to the local hair school, which is the Paul Mitchell School, Gas tonia. I call and I say, "Hey, do you take the GI bill?" And they're like, "Yeah." And I'm like, "What? You take the GI bill?" I said, "All right." I'm like, I don't even know where this is. I pull it up and it's literally around the corner from my house. Now-

Chad Jordan: Would that have been a deal breaker if they had said no? Had you even gotten that far in your thinking yet?

Jessica Sanders: I knew that was the only way I was going to be able to go back to school, was the GI bill. Now, I say it was around the corner from where I lived because I had lived in Dallas, North Carolina until my son graduated from high school. And then, I thought, "I'm going to start all over again." I feel bad. I should backtrack. I moved to Greenville, South Carolina, and so when I made this choice, I was still considered a North Carolina resident. I had to go to school in North Carolina to utilize my GI bill. I enter and take a tour of Paul Mitchell, Gas tonia, and I remember Shelby Myers. I said to her, "Hey, listen. I'm a sure thing. I've got funding. You don't need to wow, you don't need to razzle-dazzle me. I just really need to know if this is the thing for me." And she says, "Well, okay." And she says, "Well, what do you need to know?" And I said, "Well, how would this work? If I was going to do this, how would this work?"
She shared with me the curriculum. She shared with me the pace of things. She shared with me the hours, and I said, "But I don't know anything about hair-"

Chad Jordan: I was going to say, you never cut hair a day in your life, right?

Jessica Sanders: Nope. And she said, "Don't worry, we're going to teach you everything you need to know." And I said, "It's a sign."

Chad Jordan: Yeah. Right. You heard that advice before.

Jessica Sanders: I signed the paperwork that day. That was in December, and I was going to start school in January. Mind you, I backtracked for you. I'm in Greenville, South Carolina. I have to finish up my semester in college that I've, again, been driving back and forth to Gas tonia. When I enrolled in school and started, I continued living in Greenville, South Carolina, and I was driving an hour and a half each way, so three hours in the car every day. I finished-

Chad Jordan: And going to school all day.

Jessica Sanders: And go to school all day. I finished in 11 months. In that time I learned so much about myself, and I learned that the very thing that I thought was a curse, my gift for gab, it really was my gift. I remember thinking all my adult life growing up, when I would hear people say, "What is your passion?" And I would hear people say, "People are my passion." I would think, "That's a cop out." But what I learned in those 11 months that I was in school, and mind you, it was not easy to go back to school at 40. I was the oldest person in my class by 10 years.

Chad Jordan: Which? The cosmetology school, or-

Jessica Sanders: Yes, the cosmetology school. I was going to school with my son's classmates. It was an emotional journey, and it was a journey of self discovery. When I graduated from school, I remember having a counseling, like, "Where are you going to go? What are you going to do now? And I said, "I don't know, but people are my passion." I felt empowered to say that. I decided to extend my education and go for instructor training. I committed to another seven month program. During-

Chad Jordan: You've still not really worked in a salon or anything-

Jessica Sanders: This is where I'm getting ready to say, "I got to do something, and I got to start making money." And so, I said, "I don't know what to do." I lived in Greenville, and there was a Sport Clips right around the corner from me. It was Team [inaudible 00:11:59] store, and it was in Cherrydale, South Carolina. I stopped in, someone had shared it with me along the way, and so I stopped in and I said, "You know, what's this all about?" And my manager at the time, Dallas Hinton, was amazing. When I say this woman was amazing ... She's the same age as my oldest son, and when I say she took me by the hand, she took me by the hand.
I worked in her store part-time, continued making the drive back and forth to Gas tonia, and then graduated with with instructor. My plan was to stay in South Carolina, but I felt led to return to Gas tonia. That was about the time that my team leader was finishing the Gas tonia store, and there was an opportunity, and so-

Chad Jordan: To be a key holder, or-

Jessica Sanders: No, I started as a very, very, very part-time stylist, just about 15, 20 hours because I was still finishing up the tail end of that instructor. Shortly after that I was promoted to assistant manager, and then through a series of events I was promoted to manager, and I was-

Chad Jordan: What's the store number?

Jessica Sanders: NC 121.

Chad Jordan: Oh, that one.

Jessica Sanders: Yeah.

Chad Jordan: NC 121.

Jessica Sanders: NC 121. I then was ... when we opened up our fourth store. We grew overnight. We had our original store, NC 120, in Concord, outside of Concord Mills, and then our second store was NC 121 in Gas tonia. Right about the same time, we opened NC 124 in Harrisburg, and we acquired, through a purchase, NC 119 in Matthews, McKee Farms Road. We grew overnight-

Chad Jordan: Are they all in the same area, or-

Jessica Sanders: For the most part. McKee Farms is a little spread out, but we grew overnight from two stores to four stores, and so my team leader saw the opportunity to promote me. Because I am dedicated to what the mission is, I am currently managing the Gas tonia location, the Concord location, and then acting in area manager.

Chad Jordan: Oh, I thought ... This sounds bad. I thought you were just now, just an area manager. That sounds bad. I don't mean it that way. I didn't realize you were also physically managing two locations-

Jessica Sanders: Two locations.

Chad Jordan: Plus the area manager.

Jessica Sanders: Yes, sir.

Chad Jordan: You don't lack for either ambition or adrenaline, because you must have enough of both. Something I'm intrigued by, as I'm listening to your story here. Again, I don't have any preset questions. We were just having a conversation. But, the first time you ever cut a client's hair, how old were you?

Jessica Sanders: 40.

Chad Jordan: Okay. That wasn't that ago, maybe a year or two, whatever. However long ago it was. Was there an intimidation factor, is it nerves, or-

Jessica Sanders: There was so much nerves.

Chad Jordan: Okay. I mean, your a army veteran, you've been tested, and all that kind of stuff, in life, and had all these other circumstances that you've overcome, but now, you're cutting ... The reason I'm intrigued by this, is because if I'm sitting there in a chair, and a stylist is cutting my hair, and she's around 40, I figure, "Ah. She's a pro. She's been doing this a while." Was your client, were they ever suspicious that maybe you're a rookie, or-

Jessica Sanders: No. all of my clients share the same philosophy that you do, that this is something I've always done, because it's like putting on a shoe that I was meant to wear. For me, it's really about the relationships that I build in the chair. The cutting is secondary. I never know who is going to be placed in my chair. And, just like in any other service industry, you think you're doing somebody else a favor, but it's really them who winds up blessing you. You know, I'm very lucky, and blessed, because I have so much life experience that there really isn't a client that sits in my chair that I can't relate to. Because I'm somebody's mom, I'm somebody's wife, I'm somebody's ex-wife, I'm somebody's sister. I'm a vet. I've traveled all over the world. I've been overseas. My very first duty station was in Germany, my oldest son was born. I have two sons. There isn't a client that I really can't connect with. I always say that I wished I had done this so much sooner, but I wouldn't be the same stylist. I wouldn't be the same leader if I had done it sooner.

Chad Jordan: I don't want to say is there anything next, because it feels like your plate is so full, I can't even wrap my head around it, but what do you envision coming around the corner here?

Jessica Sanders: I'm excited about the opportunities for our team to continue to grow. Just like with any other person in leadership, you want to see the people that are under your guide to continue to grow. That's what I look forward to, as far as my career, as where I am. My career with Sport Clips, probably my biggest thing that I'd like to see happen is to tell my story on the stage at huddle.

Chad Jordan: Oh, so what would that look like, in terms of is there a session that we should focus on ... Unpack that for me.

Jessica Sanders: Well, I think what you're doing right now with the storytellers, I think that's so awesome, because these are the stories that we as leaders can share with our-

Chad Jordan: And you want to do this live, or you want a recorded version? Which is your preference? I just want to wrap my head around it.

Jessica Sanders: I'm live, all the way. Live and in the flesh-

Chad Jordan: You want a microphone and a podium-

Jessica Sanders: Heck, yeah.

Chad Jordan: ... and you want to get up there and we ... Boom. You got 5, 10 minutes, give us your Sport Clips story-

Jessica Sanders: Yeah, and you share what ... number one, what the quality of leadership within this company can empower a person to do, the right leader, and that's something that we as leaders have the ability to do every single day, is to be a day maker. We can either build people up or tear them down. My first manager, she took a chance with me, and she invested in me, and I, not bragging but, am a success story. I am a huge success story. I try to pay that forward. They may not be 40, they may not be on their third career, they might not have two kids, but I see a lot of wide-eyed, excited stylists, who just need somebody to believe in them.

Chad Jordan: Okay. Well, I might know some people at huddle that might ... I'm not promising anything, but you'd be surprised who they let on stage at huddle. That's all I got to say. People that have way less interesting things-

Jessica Sanders: I agree with you there, Chad.

Chad Jordan: ... to say than what you've got. One more thing, and then I'll get to my 10 questions. What, looking back, as your career now has unfolded and you found, through your journey, what you were called to be, meant to be, created for, what piece of advice would you give others that are on their path to figuring things out in life?

Jessica Sanders: Never give up, because everything in you wants to tell you to give up, especially when we're in unfamiliar territory. I'm starting over again, for the third time in your adult life. At 40 a crazy thing happens, you start taking inventory and you're like, "Oh-"

Chad Jordan: I'll find that out when I get to 40, when-

Jessica Sanders: Thanks, Chad.

Chad Jordan: No, just kidding. I'm [inaudible 00:20:05].

Jessica Sanders: You start taking inventory and you're like, "I don't have this, and I never did this, and I didn't do this." And then, I think the next question you need to ask yourself is, "Why not? Why haven't I done this?" I yielded to the still small voice, and it led me in a direction, and when I faced adversity I really wanted to quit, but I didn't. And what's on the other side of it was ... Sometimes I still can't-

Chad Jordan: All the folks 40 and over, they're listening and they're nodding their head like, "Yep. Yep. We get it." And all the millennials, or whoever's listening, it's like, "Oh, really? Is that what's going to happen?"

Jessica Sanders: "I'm never going to turn 40."

Chad Jordan: Yeah. Right. It's awesome. Okay. All right. Now we get to the fun stuff.

Jessica Sanders: All right.

Chad Jordan: Let's get to the 10 questions, the random questions, that we're going to ask, no followups to. Whatever you say, we live with. Number one. Which super power would you most like to have?

Jessica Sanders: Mind reading.

Chad Jordan: Mind reading? Wow. That's been popular. I feel like that was another one. Or, maybe you read my mind and knew that it was ... Okay. Anyway, what is your personal motto?

Jessica Sanders: Oh, wow. Guilty people will tell on themselves.

Chad Jordan: Hmm. Okay. For any dishonest people in your life. All right. [inaudible 00:21:24] throwing it up there, but ... Number three. Other than where you live now, where else in the world would you most like to live? Having been around the world I think you could answer this question.

Jessica Sanders: Somewhere with a constant 70 degree temperatures.

Chad Jordan: Oh. Sounds like Santa Maria, California would be the perfect spot for you. I'm just saying. I'm not trying to lure you away-

Jessica Sanders: I enjoyed San Diego when I did visit there.

Chad Jordan: Who is a celebrity you would most like to meet one day?

Jessica Sanders: Most like to meet. They they have to be alive?

Chad Jordan: No. Meet them in the hereafter.

Jessica Sanders: Okay. Wow. I think you stumped me. I don't know. I cannot believe that I'm at a loss for words. A Celebrity that I would most want-

Chad Jordan: Because if you don't answer it, I'll say mine, and-

Jessica Sanders: Okay. What is yours?

Chad Jordan: Elvis Presley.

Jessica Sanders: Nice.

Chad Jordan: The best singer of all time.

Jessica Sanders: Absolutely.

Chad Jordan: That's who I'd like to meet. I know I can't meet him here, but hopefully once I get through the Pearly Gates, he's there waiting for me.

Jessica Sanders: I'm still thinking.

Chad Jordan: Okay. That's fine. If it comes to you.

Jessica Sanders: All right.

Chad Jordan: Or, if not, you can take Elvis from me. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Jessica Sanders: Shut up.

Chad Jordan: No, really? Which words or-

Jessica Sanders: That would it. Shut up. Get out of here. Shut up.

Chad Jordan: Okay. All right. What sound or noise do you love?

Jessica Sanders: The ocean.

Chad Jordan: Hmm. Me too. What sound or noise do you hate?

Jessica Sanders: Repetitive ... like the clock ticking when it's really quiet, the same repetitive sound over and over again.

Chad Jordan: What profession other than your own would you have been good ... This is funny for you ... would you have been good at, or at least have wanted to try that you didn't, is-

Jessica Sanders: Okay. Growing up I always wanted to be an FBI agent, but now, outside of what I currently do, I would love to be a traveling motivational speaker.

Chad Jordan: Oh. Okay. That hits me deep, right here.

Jessica Sanders: Right there in the feels.

Chad Jordan: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Jessica Sanders: I have two, and they are my sons.

Chad Jordan: And their names are?

Jessica Sanders: Ryan and Dalton.

Chad Jordan: Okay. Awesome. My son's name is Ryan. If heaven indeed exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Jessica Sanders: Well done, my good and faithful servant.

Chad Jordan: Oh good. That's a great answer. And he'll say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, and I want you to meet Elvis Presley." Anyways, that was our amazing interview. Thank you so much for joining us and for all the thoughts and the wisdom that you had to share. Anything else, any parting wisdom you have for us?

Jessica Sanders: No. Actually, yes. I'm honored to be a part of a great company that invests in the people that we have, and builds the leaders that we have. I belonged, at one time, to the largest organization in the free world. This is quite second to it. When you're a soldier, it's a family. Getting out was harder than joining ever was. I feel the same type of family camaraderie, connection in this company.

Chad Jordan: I love that. Well, you belonged there, and you belong here, and we're glad to have you, Jessica. Thanks everybody for listening. Hope to have another good episode for you coming up.