Jilan Hall-Johnson on navigating a career path as a military spouse

Stakeholders share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the NASWA Veterans Conference

Being the spouse of someone whose job takes them all over the world can be difficult, especially if it means having to pick up and move your family as often as every two years.

“As a military spouse, it was extremely difficult to find a career for myself – constantly moving and constantly having to rearrange your life around the military,” explains Jilan Hall-Johnson, owner of The Sassy Biscuit Company, with brick-and-mortar locations in Montana and New Hampshire.

WorkingNation sat down with Hall-Johnson at the NASWA Veterans Conference in Washington, D.C.

The unemployment rate for military spouses is 21%. Hall-Johnson says she can understand why.

“Working or looking for employment and having to convince employers that even though you don’t have much work experience that you have life experience that can equate to what they’re looking for in the workforce was difficult. The anxiety I had at every single interview because of my resume and being a military spouse, it was just sometimes overwhelming,” she explains.

When her husband was ordered to Billings, Montana, she was worried about finding a job in that small town. Hall-Johnson’s solution to that stress and anxiety was to start her own business.

“Growing up, I had always loved to cook. Food was sort of the center of my life. I went to culinary school when I was younger. I saw a show about waffles and it was like ding, ding, ding. I had never heard of a waffle biscuit. Let’s see where we can take this idea.” The Sassy Biscuit Company was born.

Among the many rewards, Hall-Johnson says her new business revived a lifelong passion for cooking. As an entrepreneur, her mission now is to use her role as an employer to hire those in need of a second chance.

“I had a parent with a substance abuse problem and it really impacted my life. The way I was able to grow from that experience was through culinary school. It really gave me a second chance at life. It actually was a godsend,” she says.

“My first chef was in recovery and he and I partnered together to make that the mission of Sassy. We want to allow people the chance to make a difference in their own lives.”

Learn more about The Sassy Biscuit Company.