Ice Cube made Barbershop the movie, HBO followed with the television series, and MTV caught on with their new hit show, The Shop. Johnathan “JP” Pachesa and Juan “J Nice” Torres are Temple students whose aspect of the job has not been told or televised.
While they don’t have their own show or shop, Pachesa and Torres are two of the most well-known barbers on campus.
Pachesa began cutting hair out of his South Philadelphia apartment to cover his monthly expenses while still allowing time for school to be a priority. The sophomore business major plans to continue cutting hair as a side job after college.
“It’s not a job to me, it’s a hustle,” Pachesa said. “It keeps my bills paid but I don’t rely on it.”
Pachesa works out of his apartment, giving haircuts that take an average of 30 to 45 minutes. He makes appointments to schedule his week, although walk-ins are welcome all day on Tuesdays. While there may be a wait, clients say it’s worth it.
“He won’t let you walk out the chair messed up,” said client Dexter Thomas, a junior. “He takes it personal.”
Like Pachesa, Torres cuts hair in his apartment. Torres said he creates a balance between school and work by making appointments at his North Philadelphia home on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday basis, instead of spreading appointments throughout the week.
“He takes his time,” said junior and client Carl Watson. “He’s patient and he’s precise.”
To affirm his abilities, Torres said, “If you don’t like it, I’ll pay you. If you like it, you pay me.”
Pachesa and Torres both began honing their craft in the eighth grade.
“My mother wasn’t trying to give me any money to get a haircut so I started cutting my own,” Pachesa said.
Torres began cutting hair through influences from barbers in the family, including his father and uncle. “It was just something I picked up,” Torres said.
Friends in the neighborhood allowed Pachesa and Torres to cut their hair, in turn helping them to gain practice early on. Pachesa began taking his craft seriously and gaining clientele as a sophomore in high school.
Eventually, his own barber put in the word for him to gain apprenticeship experience on a professional level in the shop during his senior year of high school. He made from $500 to $600 a week. Guys care about maintaining a fresh haircut to please the ladies, to prepare for a job interview and to feel confident about their look. With most men getting a trim on a biweekly basis, it can be expensive to maintain a presentable look.
“I have to accommodate college students, people who don’t really have jobs like that,” Pachesa said.
His clients, most of whom are students, appreciate his affordable services.
“He is one of the best barbers on campus, still at an affordable rate,” Thomas said. Pachesa and Torres charge $10 for a haircut and $5 for an edge up.
Pachesa charges $30 for a house visit while Torres charges $12 and up to cut hair in a client’s home.
Local Philadelphia barbershops, such as Mecca, charge $20 for a haircut.
“Dudes definitely need cuts out here,” Torres said. “College students aren’t trying to pay $20 a cut.”
Over the years, the only source of advertisement for Pachesa and Torres has been word of mouth.
“Everyone’s hair I cut is a walking advertisement for me,” Pachesa said.
Sherice Brammer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.