“Home Town” star, Ben Napier becomes a JCJC alumnus

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2018-05-07 15:22:23

 
ELLISVILLE- Ben Napier, the woodworking star of the home renovation show, “Home Town,” earned a new title to add to his résumé today. His wife, Erin Napier and he were the keynote speakers at Jones County Junior College’s spring commencement before Ben joined the 710 JCJC students who also walked away with their JCJC diplomas Friday, May 4.
 
“I thought that ship had sailed until someone told me about this (Reverse Transfer). I didn’t know you could do it,” said Ben. “It’ll be cool to finally have that degree for my own pride. It won’t help me get a job or be better at my career but I love Jones and I always will. What I learned at Jones was equally important as what I learned at Ole Miss.”
 
The Laurel resident and entrepreneur explained he was a few credit-hours short of earning his history degree when he left JCJC. He transferred in 2005 to the University of Mississippi and earned his history degree in 2007. A couple of reasons Ben missed the graduation requirements included his love for talking to everyone and hanging out between the library and the Humanities Building. His budding social skills grew at Jones with his first taste of freedom from his close-knit family. Working in various roles for the Student Government Association also seemed more important at the time. Ben reasoned his work with the SGA also helped him become who he is today.  
 
“If there had been a degree in socializing at Jones, I would have had a 4.0 GPA. I loved giving tours and being involved on campus in general. I was so passionate about Jones, I may or may not have failed (a class) due to absences,” he chuckled.
 
The desire to add “JCJC graduate” to his long list of accomplishments began with his family. Both of Ben’s parents, Wayne and Bennie Napier, and his three brothers are JCJC alumni. In fact, both of his parents came back to Jones to finish their degrees in 1997 and 1999, while his youngest brother, Jesse is currently finishing his degree at JCJC.
 
“Everybody in my family went to Jones. We’ve always loved JCJC even before we were students so for me to be able to join the ranks of my brothers, dad, and mom and to actually have that degree is pretty exciting.”
 
Just as amazing to Ben is the realization of another goal. Signing a furniture deal with Vaughan-Bassett has been a personal dream of his since high school when he lived in North Carolina. Ben revealed this company doesn’t partner with many celebrities.
 
“I’ve been actively pursuing it for three years and to see it come to fruition is a dream come true that wouldn’t have happened without the TV show,” said Ben.
 
The Napier’s’ successful careers and relationship all began with the JCJC yearbook. In her role as yearbook design editor, Erin (Rasberry) said she made sure she got the yearbook assignment that involved featuring Ben. Erin blames nerves for two previously failed attempts to meet Ben.
 
“I was star struck. I had a crush on him,” Erin said. “That assignment sparked our relationship….None of this would have happened if it were not for Jones,” said Erin.
 
Ben quickly added, “It’s where we met….If Erin hadn’t been an editor for the yearbook, I don’t know what our lives would look like.”
 
Woodworking would not be a part of Ben’s passion if he had not been dating Erin at the University in Oxford. Ben confessed he wandered into the wood shop in the art department at Ole Miss and graduate students showed him how to use the tools.
 
“Woodworking was a hobby but to see the avenues that have opened up as a result is mind-boggling to think about,” said Ben. “I’m a woodworker and Erin is an artist. We’ve designed homes and renovated homes. We never thought it would be a career. We do this show because it’s positive for Mississippi, Jones County, and Laurel.”
 
The HGTV show was pitched to the Napier’s after they renovated their loft and current studio office and their 1925 Craftsman style house. Later in May, the couple will begin filming the third season of “Home Town.”  The labor-intensive TV show isn’t the only business the Napier’s are juggling. After earning a degree in graphic design, Erin’s stationery business, Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence which gained international notoriety was the first company the couple launched. It is on hold to better manage other business ventures, like their memoir, Make Something Good, which will be released in October and is published by Simon & Schuster, and a new line of American-made furniture will be in stores nationwide in January 2019. The Napier’s keep a busy speaking schedule as Ben tries to fill orders for his reclaimed wood furniture business called, Scotsman Co. Additionally, the couple and four of their best friends sell heirloom wares and durable goods at their downtown Laurel store, Laurel Mercantile Co. To top it off, the Napier’s are also trying to figure out how to be parents to four-month-old Helen.
 
“It’s amazing how, now that we have Helen, it takes me a week to get done what I used to get done in a day. I could just sit and stare at her for hours. We take hundreds of pictures and send to grandparents,” said Ben.
 
The Napier’s said despite the success in their lives they recognize Jones is one of the reasons they have the life they love today. Their goal now is to let the light shine on their favorite projects.
 
“We know we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our families, places we grew up in, the schools we attended. We don’t want this to be about us. I know there is no way around that but if we can somehow be a mirror to reflect the things that got us here, we want to do that,” said Ben.
 
 
    

 

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