College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Alumni Host HGTV Hit

The Napiers on their front porch in Laurel, Mississippi. As a way to incorporate their alma mater, season two of Home Town will feature art by UM students. Each piece—whether a mug displayed on a bookcase or a watercolor framed above a mantle—will be sourced and given name recognition on the featured episode.

The Napiers on their front porch in Laurel, Mississippi. As a way to incorporate their alma mater, season two of Home Town will feature art by UM students. Each piece—whether a mug displayed on a bookcase or a watercolor framed above a mantle—will be sourced and given name recognition on the featured episode. | Photo courtesy of Erin and Ben Napier

When Erin and Ben Napier aren’t restoring historic homes on HGTV’s hit series Home Town, the couple keeps busy operating a shop that sells heirloom wares and durable goods made in the USA.

On the program, the couple helps new residents find and renovate homes in Laurel while showing them the benefits of living in a small Southern town.

“We want others to see the magic of small-town living and everything it has to offer,” said Erin, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in graphic design in 2007.

Ben graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history the same year and worked in student ministry before learning woodworking as a means to fill the couple’s home with furniture.

“Small towns are restored by regular people who embrace their story,” Erin said at the 2017 Mississippi Economic Council annual meeting. “Every town has a story, and Mississippians are really good at telling stories. We are a storytelling people.”

Ben explains the pair’s approach. “I tell my story through wood and history, and Erin tells hers through art and words.”

Virginia Chavis, chair and professor of art and art history, said Erin is an unforgettable student who visits her classes each spring as a guest speaker.

“She is motivated, creative, and ahead of the curve in her ideas,” Chavis said.

“While she talks about her successes, more importantly she describes the path she took to get where she is today. She explains to students the difficult decision she made in the beginning of her career to let go of a reliable paycheck in order to pursue her creative ambitions.

“To be successful in the creative world, one must be willing to put in long, hard hours. Erin is not afraid of getting her hands dirty or staying up late to get the job done.”