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QCC Alumna Has Found Her Own Piece Of Paradise

February, 2019
  • QCC alumna Natasha Torres
    QCC alumna Natasha Torres

For the last five years Quinsigamond Community College alumna Natasha Torres has been a successful entrepreneur operating Garden of Eden Spa, a skin, make up, waxing and nail services spa in Oxford, dedicated to making her clients feel relaxed, pampered and special.

Ms. Torres’s journey into the cosmetology world began at a young age, and by the time she was in high school, she knew she wanted to one day own her own business in the field of cosmetology. Ms. Torres attended Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton, focusing her career path in cosmetology. She knew she needed to have a strong business acumen before taking the leap into entrepreneurship and chose to attend QCC after high school, to obtain her degree in business administration.

“I chose QCC because it was affordable; it was a well-known school; I could commute easily, and my mom went there,” she said. “QCC is an awesome college and it gives you a strong foundation, without having to be in debt.”

Ms. Torres said she was already familiar with the college because of her mother.

“My mom never finished classes because she had me and was in the hospital a lot with me, so she had to drop out,” she said.

Ms. Torres said she was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly. While this has left her using a wheelchair to get around, it has never stopped her from any accomplishments she set her mind to do. While attending QCC, Ms. Torres worked in QCC’s Math Center as a work study student, in addition to working an off-campus job in the food service industry. During her time at QCC she made an indelible impression on virtually everyone she met and was even honored with a Women of Distinction Award.

She said she got a terrific start at QCC by taking a college preparation class, which gave her a clear path on how to maneuver college classes.

“I loved that class. It taught me how to study and get ready for college. They don’t teach you that in high school. It was so beneficial and so useful,” she said, adding, “The accessibility and having the buildings closer together was also very helpful for me.”

During her time at QCC she took a psychology course, taught by Professor of Psychology Maura Stickles. She said it gave her great insight into the future clients she would hope to one day have.

“The psychology course was so amazing and I realized if I was going to be working with clients these classes would be very helpful,” she added. “Professor Stickles was amazing and that’s why I still remember her. I feel like I learned so much at QCC; there were so many wonderful teachers.”

Ms. Torres was awarded her Certificate in Small Business Management in 2003 and then in 2006 completed her Associate Degree in Business Administration. From there she transferred to Worcester State University where she hoped to earn her bachelor’s degree; however, family issues led her to put her education on hold (with only a few credits short of her bachelor’s degree) and work full-time in food service. While this would have deterred many people, Ms. Torres remained unfazed and kept alive her dream of one day owning her own business.

Eventually she was able to leave her food service job and go back to cosmetology, working for other salons; however, by this time she had begun to fall out of love with cosmetology.  A chance encounter at a beauty supply shop eventually led her to her true love - being an aesthetician (someone who is a licensed skin care specialist and performs cleansing, massage and treatment of the skin). After becoming a licensed aesthetician she began working at various spas and gaining valuable experience, and in 2011 she opened her own spa. Through her spa she continues to give back to the community, often sponsoring area fundraisers.

Today, her successful and thriving business has even brought in staff members from QCC.

“I didn’t realize it when I made an appointment for a facial at Garden of Eden Spa, but I recognized Natasha immediately when I got there. We had known each other years ago when she attended QCC and I worked in one of the offices she frequently visited. Her warmth and friendliness, as well as the pride in knowing that she is a fellow alumna, has made me a faithful client at Garden of Eden Spa for over four years now,” said QCC Development Operations Supervisor Shirley Dempsey. “Natasha truly cares about her clients and shows concern for our overall heath and well-being. She keeps abreast of current trends, providing us with the most up-to-date products and services.”

Ms. Torres said it was QCC that gave her the foundation she needed to get where she is today and has a bit of advice for anyone who is considering attending, but is afraid to take that first step.

“QCC is adept with different learning styles and it gives you different opportunities. I’m physically disabled,  but if I can do it and make it there (at QCC) you can do it and make it,” she said.