Queen Creek college, career specialist Shelli Boggs a salon owner, nonprofit founder

Shelli Boggs displays a homemade sign with the logo of her salon Sassy Roots, which is run out of a chiropractic examination-room-turned-salon. (Julianna Morton, Arizona State University

When the last class bell at Queen Creek High School rings, Shelli Boggs sets her pencil down and picks up a pair of hair shears at her salon Sassy Roots Hair Co.

Mrs. Boggs, previously known for her nationally recognized nonprofit Happy Hair Bands, is in her first year as the college and career specialist at Queen Creek High School.

“I feel like I’m involved in everything in different ways,” Mrs. Boggs, a 15-year resident of Queen Creek, said.

Shelli Boggs looks in the mirror of one the two hair stylist stations at her salon, Sassy Roots Hair Co., in Desert Mountain Chiropractic. (Julianna Morton, Arizona State University)

At night, in a Desert Mountain Chiropractic examination-room-turned-salon, she is the owner and a stylist at Sassy Roots Hair Co. It is at 21321 E. Ocotillo Road Suite 121 in Queen Creek.

“When I’m at the high school during the day, I lease out the (salon) room to two other hair stylists,” Mrs. Boggs said.

“They’re moms with little ones so going into a fulltime schedule at a salon doesn’t fit with what they’re doing. The three of us are able to use the room and work our schedules together,” she said.

Growing up with a mother who worked more than 30 years in the salon and a father who worked 30 years at Mesa High School, Mrs. Boggs said she was “able to take the two things that (she) loves to do and combine it” during her 12-year tenure as a cosmetology teacher in the Career and Technical Education program at the East Valley Institute of Technology from 2002 to 2014.

One of the hair stylists at Sassy Roots Hair Co., Amanda Black, is a former East Valley Institute of Technology student of Mrs. Boggs from 2010.

“It’s not glamorous, and it’s not anything high end,” Mrs. Black said. “It’s a place where people come together to get their hair done and chat.”

Beyond being her fellow teacher and current colleague, Mrs. Boggs “became a huge part” of Mrs. Black’s 11-year-old sister’s “cancer journey,” Mrs. Black said.

After seeing Mrs. Black’s little sister, Naomi Oaks, on the news because “Taylor Swift donated $50,000 for her leukemia charity,” Mrs. Boggs and Ms. Oaks started Happy Hair Bands, a nonprofit that gained national attention in 2015, “with the help of other girls in the hospital.”

“Wigs don’t always look so natural on little girls, so I had an idea in mind of just a headband with hair attached to it,” Mrs. Boggs said.

The original idea of Happy Hair Bands was inspired by her stepson, a cancer survivor, who was diagnosed in eighth grade.

“It was devastating to him that he was going to lose his hair,” Mrs. Boggs said.

Along with her stepson, who attended Williams Field High School in Gilbert, the mother of four has two daughters who are alumni of Queen Creek High School and a son who is a sophomore on the wrestling team there.

“She manages to help with her son’s wrestling team and still be active in the community, while also holding down a job and doing all of the things we all do,” Sally Harrison said. She is the president and CEO of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and personal friend of Mrs. Boggs for four years.

After the launch of her nonprofit, Mrs. Boggs began working in the Chandler Unified School District.

“(Education) always draws me back in because of the kids, and helping them, introducing them to community …and empowering them in any way I can,” Mrs. Boggs said.

Since then, Mr.s Boggs, who prefers to go by “Shelli” rather than her full name Rochelle, holds the position as the college and career specialist at Queen Creek High School.

“I followed the program to see how it was going when it first started, and when the position opened, I interviewed, and I got it,” Mrs. Boggs said. “I was lucky and blessed because I just love it.”

The mother of four, full-time Queen Creek High School staff member, business owner and philanthropist said she hopes to spend more time with family and friends and continue to impact her community.

“She’s loyal to the end,” Ms. Harrison said. “She’s passionate about things in our community. She’s just one of those people that you know you can always count on.”

Editor’s note: Julianna Morton is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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