Joint Service Accelerator Program pitch leads to new salon opening

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

After a two-year period without a hair care option for women at Sheppard Air Force Base, a new salon opened June 1, 2024 after an Airman in Training proposed the change to the command team through the Joint Service Accelerator Program.

Airman 1st Class Maia Jefferies, now a Metals Tech Apprentice at Luke Air Force Base, was part of the Airman Accelerator Program when she chose the lack of options for women on base as the problem she believed could be solved.

“There was no place on base for women to get their haircuts,” she said. “For my peers and me, this was an issue. Women were not allowed to cut our hair in basic military training unless we wanted to shave it all, and once getting to tech school we were still unable to until a few weeks went by when we could phase up and leave base. But that in total was over 10 weeks without hair care, if you were able to phase up, while our male counterparts had easy access across the street.”

SSgt Britton Esser, Aircrew Egress Instructor and JSAP facilitator, worked with Jefferies to help her develop a pitch book and polish her public speaking skills. The final pitch was so compelling they rushed it to the next stage in a race to beat Jefferies’ upcoming transfer to her new squadron.

“Jefferies pitched to the major and then 30 minutes later, she pitched to the colonel. And the colonel was like, ‘Oh, that's a big issue. Let's get this in front of the wing.’ So, we scheduled it with the wing on that Friday before she left. She got up there and gave a better pitch than I would. She did amazing and then the wing commander at the time, General Deitrich, looked at the FSS commander and said ‘make this happen.’”

While Jefferies, Esser and other JSAP members moved on from the presentation, the Force Support Squadron got to work making the salon pitch a reality.

Sasha Elaine Jordan, an aesthetician and entrepreneur who was once a military dependent and has numerous veterans in her family, was looking for an opportunity expand her business when she saw the solicitation for bids to open a salon on the base. Jordan, who has worked for the Department of Defense, was keenly interested in continuing to support the military community by providing services she said improve self-confidence and job performance for military women in addition to helping them maintain grooming and appearance standards.

After submitting the winning proposal, she opened the Sasha Elaine salon, using the name she and her beautician grandmother share.

At the grand opening, Jordan and Jefferies, who was brought back for the event, met and talked about how the idea for the salon began with a proposal and grew into a new business.

“It came at the perfect time. I'm a firm believer and things happen for a reason. And it wasn't until the grand opening that I was able to speak with Airman Jefferies and the sergeants when I learned about the program she was in.”

Jefferies was coined at the ribbon cutting by Chief Master Sgt. Rey Schultz, 82nd TRW Command Chief. Schultz was an early supporter of the program.

“I love the Joint Service Accelerator Program because it provides a platform for trainees at the lowest levels to bring their innovative ideas to wing leadership -- something that I would have never dreamed of when I was wearing their stripes,” he said. “The salon initiative specifically provides an obvious yet necessary service that has been overlooked for the past few years. There were a lot of moving parts and hard work to make this happen, but none of it would have happened without Airman 1st Class Jefferies’ initiative. I’m excited to see what’s coming next!”