Hispanic businesses in Fayetteville, NC share a culture

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All over Cumberland County, you can find a variety of cultures that not only add diversity to the community, but also to businesses.

Some Latino business owners in Fayetteville are proud of their heritage through their businesses.

Vernando “Tito” Simmons-Valenzuela is co-owner of Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. The brewery has become one of the community centers for hosting a wide range of events in the area.

“Part of the reason we even built such a big space was because a lot of the things we wanted to do, we couldn’t find anyone who was willing to accommodate them or do them as we wanted,” a- he declared. “So we decided to build it ourselves. ”

Simmons-Valenzuela owns the business with his business partners Eric Whealton and Jerry Hall.

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From live musical performances to drag brunches, Dirtbag Ales has seen its fair share of events that unite the entire community. It was this year that Simmons was able to host events celebrating both his black and Puerto Rican heritage.

Dirtbag Ales hosted the celebration of the Juneteenth Festival circa 1865 in June and the Chinchorreo Festival, which celebrates Puerto Rican culture, by Boricuas, North Carolina in August.

“I never thought of doing a Puerto Rican festival or anything like that, but when the opportunity arose, I was more than happy to be part of it; it goes with just about any community event, ”he said. “I thought it was great to be black and Puerto Rican. Being able to celebrate the Chincherreo (Festival) and have a Juneteenth celebration was right – it was really great.

A childhood passion

Gold Standard Auto Work serves various parts of the Fayetteville area and owner Paul Torrez, of Mexican origin, made sure to register his business with North Carolina HUBZone as a Hispanic company.

He said, “I use it as a slogan to describe my business; if you were to take a look at my website or my corporate facebook page where it talks about the “about me” sections, i describe myself very explicitly as a small minority and veteran owned business.

“This is something that I think is important to highlight because not only do I show the great work that I do, but I also want people to see me too.”

Torrez offers auto repair services including auto detailing, paint correction and headlight restoration in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Hope Mills, Raeford, Spring Lake, Sanford and Cameron.

With a background in criminal justice and a military background in communications, Torrez chose to follow his passion after spending his childhood working on cars with his father for fun.

“I was always the guy who helped him in the garage with working on cars, fixing cars and cleaning cars, stuff like that,” he said. “So I’ve kind of been around cars all my life. Even in college, it was something my friends did on Saturdays; we would go to the car wash and spend half the day washing cars and catching up with each other.

Karoll Echeverri, owner of Meraki Creative Agency

Beautiful colors

In downtown Fayetteville, it’s the beautiful colors that guide Karroll Echeverri’s business, Meraki Creative Agency, a party and rental shop.

“With everything we do in the store, we try to invoke joy,” she said. “That’s what we do. … everything has to be in abundance.

Echeverri is co-owner of Meraki Creative Agency with Brittany Cobb.

Echeverri, originally from Colombia, describes it as one of the happiest countries, because of the music and its color, just as his business is covered in colorful party decor.

“It’s a very colorful country, which kind of brings me back to why I guess I would be drawn to anything to do with color,” she said.

She said that she is always asked where she is from after people hear her accent, and she thinks it’s important to share her culture.

“To this day it’s interesting because I haven’t heard anything bad, like someone doesn’t have anything bad to say about a Colombian,” she said. “It’s always kind of a connection somewhere.”

Learned from an early age

Puerto Rican barber Joel Cotto has lived in the Fayetteville area since he was 4 years old. He said he started cutting his hair when he was young because his family could not always afford to have his hair cut. Now 30 years old, he has been cutting for about 13 years.

Cotto is the owner of Luxurius Coiffure, a hairdressing salon. He also participated in several barber competitions, which earned him 17 trophies.

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Cotta said his cultural background has helped him better serve his clientele.

“I feel like I’m Puerto Rican, I’m from my island, I feel creativity is the key to styling hair and making sure it matches that person’s charisma”, did he declare. “When someone comes in, you want to adapt their aura.

“Being able to be bilingual and help more people in the community and have a way of styling the hair and making it perfect, I feel like that has helped a lot of the community.”

Cotto said he finds it important to give back to the community.

“I want to be able to help the community more than usual,” he said. “I feel like a lot of hair salons, a lot of hair salons, a lot of people who work with clients should give back to their community because first of all that’s what pays our bills and second , that’s what makes us grow. “

Editor-in-chief Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected]

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