First Impressions x TGD: Val

Val is a community-focused entrepreneur and founder of a fashion brand called Dreams of Triumph. His work intentionally stands at the intersection of fashion, community, and inspiration, building a bridge for people who want to express themselves and their values without sacrificing their appreciation for high-quality design.

Val sitting outside on a wall

You created Dreams of Triumph to “fill the void of positive reinforcement in our society.” Was there a moment that was a spark for this mission?

There are moments almost every day that spark my mission to initiate positive reinforcement in our society. Whether it’s seeing a kid getting bullied on social media or hearing about an individual being murdered in cold blood in my community, all these factors are key to why I do my part in spreading a message of hope and try to change the trajectory of society today.

Can you speak to the broader familial, communal, and cultural forces that shape your work? Who or what influences your sense of creativity and style? Does that influence extend to specifics in the design itself?

The community and cultural forces that shape my work are the drug-infested and violence-driven neighborhoods that the kids I currently mentor are growing up in. These neighborhoods lack that influential figure that’s going to lead these kids in a positive direction and I chose to take that challenge and set an example by letting them know that where they’re from or their current circumstances don’t have to determine who they are or where they land in the future.

Where they’re from or their current circumstances don’t have to determine who they are or where they land in the future.

All these interactions with these communities have an influence on the way I design. For example, there are pieces that I designed that read “Turning Lessons into Blessings” or “Stay Prayed Up”. These quotes were derived from me seeing people go from a place of struggle to turning their lives around for the better, or me seeing individuals go through hardships while keeping their heads up, knowing that things will get better in the future.

You’re a creative person whose creative expression seems deeply tied to your identity as an entrepreneur. How do you find balance between your entrepreneurial and artistic selves? Do you ever find yourself in situations where you have to compromise one for the other?

My entrepreneurial and artistic selves are one and the same, being that I am my brand. Everything that I do or create reflects myself and my creativity. Whether I must create a new clothing collection for the brand or take the photos and do the editing work, it all comes down to me being creative while advancing my brand at the end of the day.

Do Right Make Riches shirts

Do you think that the philosophical belief that “love always triumphs” is enough to solve for the great discontent that exists in your community?

I don’t believe that it’s enough, but I do believe that it’s a big part of the equation. A lot of our communities are lacking “Love,” so if we continue to not only spread this notion verbally but physically, by hugging each other and letting each other know that it’s okay to show compassion for one another, the world will become better. This is when things will start to improve and the community will start to break its ongoing discontent.

Letting each other know that it’s okay to show compassion for one another, the world will become better.

Val walking up steps

If you’re interested in following Val’s creative journey and staying connected to his work, follow him on IG @dreamsoftriumph or dreamsoftriumph.com.

This series is made possible by a spontaneous friendship between Holiday Matinee and The Great Discontent. Learn more about our pals at TheGreatDiscontent.com.