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Student entrepreneur builds recipe for success

Ruby Cerino
Modern Hookah is located by TI:ME at the Montecillo shopping center in West El Paso.

Eddie Flores, 28, stared out across the piles of debris and dust with his hands in his pockets as he watched a portion of reconditioned shipping containers neatly stacked on top of each other transform into the Modern Hookah, located by the TI:ME center at the Montecillo shopping center in West El Paso.

With a sense of purpose, a plan of action and the help of family, friends and business partners, Flores, junior business management major and owner of Modern Hookah and Common Ground, decided to launch his first business in 2011 when he was 24 -years -old.

“I’ve always wanted to own one and owning two businesses is a huge blessing, but also a lot of work,” Flores said.

In 2011, Flores opened up his first business, Modern Hookah, as a catering service located inside The Garden restaurant at the Union Plaza. Since then, he gradually expanded into other local clubs and bars within the community.

“We consistently gained popularity, and when the opportunity came for us to open at TI:ME, we felt it was the best opportunity for us to branch out on our own,” Flores said.

Flores held the grand opening of Modern Hookah inside TI:ME in 2014. The same year he decided to open the doors to a second business, Common ground, a quaint craft beer and wine bar located in East El Paso.

“Common Ground was an idea my business partner and I had been working on for months,” Flores said. “It was risky deciding to open both business within the same year, but is a decision I don’t regret.”

Flores dreamed of starting his own business, but did not wait until he graduated to become an entrepreneur.  He was motivated to launch his own hookah business while still enrolled as a student in the undergraduate business program.

“Seeing other local people achieve success motivated me to do more, so I decided to leave school in an effort to expand my business,” Flores said.  “My academics became to difficult to manage when my main focus and energy, at the time, was set on launching my business productively.”

While debating the benefits of finishing school versus starting his own business, Flores decided to put his education on hold to pursue his dream of entrepreneurship.

“It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I don’t regret,” Flores said.

While working as office manager for Nationwide Insurance, Flores said going to school and working another day job was not easy when operating a business at the same time, but it has taught him how to make better decisions on how to spend his time.

“Having a full-time job and co-owning both locations is hard, but I have great business partners and staff that make my life so much easier,”  Flores said. “They help me keep my drive to keep improving.”

Flores said going back to school can offer valuable business insight. “I regret not finishing school first, but I know if I can achieve the success I hope for, then I will be able to finish school with a totally new perspective.”

Aside from obtaining his degree in business, Flores also hopes to seek another degree in web design.

Flores plans to expand Modern Hookah by adding an outdoor patio to the space and launching a clothing line with the brand. He would like to add a food menu to Common Ground and participate in local beer and wine festivals.

With aspirations to stay and expand as much as he can in the community, Flores also hopes to meet with the growing trend of owning a food truck.

“I am extremely happy to have made the decisions I made and wouldn’t change it for the world,” Flores said. “By the end of the day, if you are determined and passionate about something, then you will surely make it.”

Valerie Herrera may be reached at [email protected].

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Student entrepreneur builds recipe for success