Whether it was working multiple jobs or doing a stint in jail, there always seemed to be roadblocks in Eddie Torres’ path.
At 40, the lifelong south Bronx resident, opened Etrendz Barber Studio at 3027 Middletown Road in December 2018.
“I was in shock,” Torres said. “I couldn’t really soak it in.”
Torres was raised by his mom, Awilda Santiago, in a two-bedroom apartment with his siblings, Luis and Angelica.
His mom couldn’t always afford to get him a haircut, so sometimes he would have to wait up to three months to get one. Eventually at the age of 13, he asked his mom for hair clippers and instantly fell in love with the trade.
“I wanted to start cutting my own hair and that’s how I started,” he recalled.
Torres would study the techniques of the barbers he knew used and frequently asked them for hair cutting tips. Armed with confidence he practiced his craft on the kids who lived in his building.
At 17 he got his first job shearing domes in a numbers joint and eventually worked in a few other spots. However he didn’t see the potential his talent had in store for him then, applying his practice on a part-time basis at best.
“I didn’t know the potential that barbering had at that time; I was so young,” he said.
However, a few years later, his girlfriend became pregnant and now he needed to earn a living.
So, he landed a clerical job at St. Luke’s Hospital and continued to cut hair on the side. But, things took a turn for the worse, when a three-year-old assault case caught up to him and he was sentenced to five years probation.
As he continued to work both jobs, he went astray and by 25, he was arrested for conspiracy to sell firearms. He was sentenced to two years and four months in jail on the federal rap.
“This was the lowest point in my life,” he said.
Prison made him realize how grateful he was for food, family and friends.
“It’s a whole different way of life in prison,” he commented.
He returned home at 29-years-old and quickly reapplied and got his job back at St. Luke’s. Six moths later he quit the hospital job and decided to begin cutting hair fulltime. It was at this time that he met into his current wife, Sulay Flores.
Soon they learned Sulay was expecting twin boys and needed a larger house and car.
So he went back to working two jobs to make ends meet. He dabbled as a plumber, FedEx driver, construction worker and porter, yet still kept turning to cutting hair.
Flores urged him to stick with hair and follow his dream.
He heeded her advice and created a business account, selling T-shirts and beard oils and building a clientele.
With the money he saved he felt it was time to open his dream barber shop.
He met with a bank, was approved for a loan and located an ideal storefront in Pelham Bay.
“I always came back to cutting hair,” Torres said. “At the end of the day all of the pieces fell together. I’m so happy I quit all those jobs and became a barber.”