A participating Oak Cliff business owner in this year’s Cinco de Mayo parade, Valentino Torres overflowed with pride, reminiscing his days as a little kid watching on the sidelines.
As his team lined up to start the parade down the historic Jefferson Boulevard, it was almost surreal to Torres that they’d pass by V&F Beauty Lounge, the salon he co-owns with husband Felipp Alvarez
“I was that little kid on Jefferson catching the freebies 25 years ago, amazed at the beautiful art that came through — the presentations, floats, the band, the cheerleaders,” Torres told Infórmate DFW. “Little did I know my business would be in that parade reaching out to the community decades later.”
With Torres as the salon’s creative director and hairstylist and Alvarez as head barber, V&F became the perfect project they could develop together. The two met 15 years ago, working different career paths toward this accomplishment.
A professional hairstylist for the past 12 years, cosmetology runs in Torres’s genes. Growing up, his father was the family barber, cutting the children’s hair as a side hobby. His mother was all about makeup, beauty and fashion, never stepping out of the house undone. Meanwhile, his family in Monterrey, Mexico, operated beauty salons. After dedicating many years to the banking industry, Torres decided on cosmetology school in 2007 to develop his intrinsic talent.
Alvarez grew up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and moved to Dallas in his early 20s. Always one with a bold sense of style — trendy, hip and unafraid to express men’s fashion in his own way, Alvarez redirected his career from the food and beverage industry to find and develop his passion. He graduated from Master Barber college in Oak Cliff and worked in neighboring Bishop Arts District shops before V&F became a reality.
The partners lived in North Dallas for some time, but Torres longed to return to Oak Cliff, where he was born and raised. In addition to making Oak Cliff home, they both wanted to create a business in the neighborhood that watched them grow. They eventually purchased a home in Winnetka Heights at an opportune time.
Jefferson Boulevard was taking on a new face and blending of cultures, with edgy developments unfolding amid the street’s quinceañera, jewelry repair and other familiar, longtime storefronts. Torres and Alvarez saw potential in the location and thought they could give back to the Oak Cliff community with their talents: Offering a one-stop shop for hair and other beauty services in a relaxing environment that locals and existing clientele could enjoy without breaking the bank.
A few months after moving to Oak Cliff, Torres and Alvarez began to develop plans for the birth of V&F. Forming part of the retail, craft beer pubs and coffee and confectionery establishments that have given new life to Jefferson Boulevard, V&F became its first modern boutique salon when it opened in November 2016.
“I never thought I would have a wonderful team of eight,” Torres added. “I’m so very humbled to have an amazing group and so much support. Thank you for believing in me and us. This is not the end, just the beginning!”