Today started off with my every morning ritual of Life maple brown sugar cereal and a Coke, made better when I was scrolling through instagram and remembered we got to be the featured hometown today for Belle & Union Co.’s Hometown Tuesday series!
How fitting, right? Meg reached out last week to offer to help us spread the word about Home Town by doing her crazy cool doodles of our favorite Laurel landmarks to illustrate the interview we did.
How are you a part of the community?
Ben is the city’s mascot—the Loblolly lumberjack, the flannel wearing giant who’s like a cartoon character to all the kids in town. I’m the unofficial graphic designer for whatever downtown Laurel needs, whenever they need it. We love our town so much, we even made a TV show about it for HGTV.
What’s the most iconic spot in town and why?
The most iconic has got to be Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. It’s the oldest museum in Mississippi and houses works by Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly, Mary Cassatt, Rembrandt and Winslow Homer. On the other hand, there’s Philip’s Drive-In, everyone’s favorite burger joint and the oldest restaurant in town.
How do you know when you are “officially” a local?
When you know to call in your order at PDI before you go. When you score free Pancake Day tickets. When you have a Laurel brick in your house. When you know THE Laurel High School cheer. When you have Tyrone Stewart’s (the Chief of Police’s) cell phone number. When you know which streets are detoured currently. When you get asked to drive in the Christmas Parade. When you buy in to the conspiracy surrounding the Annual Chili Cookoff champion. When you know the best place to view the Christmas lights in Mason Park or the fireworks on July 3rd. When you brag to your out-of-town friends about the world’s 2nd smallest handmade basket at the museum. You’re a local.
What’s your favorite thing to do around town?
We take long walks late at night with our 2 enormous great Pyrenees pups all through the historic district. We see it in the quiet hours, when it’s just us and the sprawling old Laurel homes and lamplit parks and our feet crunching on the leaves. It’s the most magical way to see the city, at night, on foot.
How does your hometown influence your brand/your shop?
The way it’s both a highly cultured arts town just as much as it’s a working class boots and lunchbell town looms large in our style and brand, I think. We’re trying to capture a snapshot of all the best things about Southern culture—the grit and the glamour of it.
What made you want to open a shop/business here?
There’s no place in America where the cost of living is less and the benefits of doing business are higher. Our costs are lower, our real estate is beautiful and inexpensive, our friends and family are here. There’s no place I’d rather be.
*All illustrations by Meg Sutton of Belle & Union Co. — and aren’t they the coolest?!
Also, today I got the absolute sweetest gift in the mail from my friend Ellie of Hello Tenfold. She’s an incredibly talented paper sister whom I was able to help with a tiny work problem that wasn’t any trouble at all and she sends me this! So sweet and so unexpected! We ate everything in that box in 10 minutes. Yum!
Ben’s shop is getting so legit organized and clean and workable and stocked with all this beautiful new hardwood, it’s bordering on dangerously functional.
5 DAYS until Home Town on HGTV! Is it showing up in your cable listings? Let me know! It’s not showing in mine still! We’ve got some fun stuff planned as we begin promoting hard starting tomorrow!