HGTV’s reality television show Home Town stars Ben and Erin Napier as they restore homes in their small town of Laurel, Mississippi. With Ben’s woodworking skills and Erin’s graphic designing talent, they make the perfect team to create the perfect home. Being out on the job, Ben’s ropers are a necessity as they provide the comfort and traction he needs to get through a long hard day.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
Laurel, Mississippi is the closest thing to a hometown that I’ve got. My parents are United Methodist ministers. My brothers and I grew up moving to different small churches in small towns. There’s one thing that stands true of all small towns: There is no anonymity. That gives you a sense of security because somebody is always watching out for you, but it also keeps you in check.
It’s been a big year for the show, and a new season just premiered in January. Tell us about Home Town. What is it about? How did it start?
Home Town is about the revitalization of our small town. The engine behind the show is home restoration, but it’s more than that. Every episode features a small business or attraction in town, and there are multiple characters from the town in each episode. It’s a mixture of The Andy Griffith Show meets This Old House. Lindsey Weidhorn, a producer from New York City, discovered Erin’s social media after an interview about our home for a wedding magazine. From there, she dreamt up the idea of this show that has changed our lives and our town.
When did you and Erin realize that Home Town was the path for you two?
Just before we were contacted about the show, I had decided to resign from student ministry at our church. We consulted with other pastors, with our parents, and with God. We prayed almost nonstop for months leading up to my resignation. When the email came asking if we had ever considered being on TV, I had sealed the envelope on my resignation letter an hour earlier. We didn’t see it as “this is God’s plan for our future” but more as an affirmation that we were following God’s plan. We agreed that we would follow that path as far as it went.
With your woodworking skills and Erin’s designing, was renovating houses always something that interested you two?
Being ministers’ kids, my brothers and I were always doing something around the house. Working on cars, patching holes in walls from moving furniture, painting cabinets, plumbing repairs, changing out old light fixtures, and landscaping were all in our weekend wheelhouse. I think that’s where my ability in woodworking grew from. Those weekend projects around the church or the house were the roots that grew into what I do today. Erin’s family always enjoyed updating their home or their beach house from time to time. They’re all creative people and encouraged that creativity in Erin and her art from childhood.
How do you decide how you’re going to remodel a home? How do you make them different from one another?
Our production company, RTR Media, has a team in place to help us find homeowners to work with. That decides everything for us. The homeowner and their taste is how we decide on what the house should be like. Their lifestyle, taste, and quirks are what we design the home around.
Tell us about Scotsman Co.
Scotsman Co. was an accident honestly. I wandered into the woodshop in the Ole Miss school of art while in undergrad. Erin was there all hours of the day working on projects, and naturally I wanted to be where she was. I began building frames for her artwork. When we got married, I built furniture for the first home we renovated and then for the next place we renovated. With every project, I got a little more confident and fell in love with the craft a little more. As people started asking me more and more for furniture, it was slowly becoming more than a hobby. One day, in a critical moment for me, a friend told me I should turn my woodworking into a business. We now produce about 40 custom, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture a year along with hundreds of our collection pieces and small products like cutting boards and rolling pins.
How often do you wear boots?
I wear boots every day unless I’m on vacation.
What kind of boots do you keep in your collection for being on the job? Any “special” boots in your collection?
I’ve got multiple pairs work boots. Lace up. Vibram soled boots are my preferred footwear to work in, but I’ve also got some pull-ons for when I’m in a hurry. I’ve got a pair of Lucchese ropers that are my favorite boots of all time. They were a gift for a special occasion.
What do you feel every day when you put on your Lucchese boots?
My Lucchese boots immediately make me feel confident. I know that probably makes me sound vain, but it’s more about my ankle than how I look. I destroyed one of my ankles about 10 years ago. I should’ve had surgery, but when you’re young and dumb and broke, those things get kicked down the road. My ropers are the only boots that when I put them on, I know that I can go all day in them without my ankle hurting. They look pretty damn good, too. I also have the leather tool kit that was a gift from Erin for Christmas last year and I keep it in my truck. When you drive old cars, you never know when you’ll be stranded on the side of the highway next.