It has been a really long time since we did a blog post. Things have been crazy and for that I am sorry. I knew before we left that our road trip to Laurel would be something different and would be great to document. But now, back in my own living room I struggle to really find the words I need to tell you about our experience.
We went to Laurel with basically no expectations. We had no idea what to anticipate. But, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I could have never predicted what it was really like.
I bet this is where you’re expecting me to start talking about Ben & Erin and HGTV. Well, about that I’ll say very little. Except this:
Ben and Erin are truly just as wonderful in real life. They are kind, humble, and hard working. I give them and all the families from the series so much credit for throwing themselves into the crazy spotlight of national television to help bring attention and value to the small town that they love. We are more than honored to work with all the partners and team at Laurel Mercantile Co.
But here is the thing, that town… is FILLED with amazing stories and people. The excitement and dedication they have for Laurel is palpable. They pop up all over in the most unassuming and casual way. They’re throwing everything into their passions to make Laurel shine. Their enthusiasm is contagious. I am going to tell you about my experiences with some of them.
Joseph & Jamie of Sweet Somethings -
I am so glad that I found Sweet Somethings Bed & Breakfast before anyone else snatched up the reservation. The 16 ft ceilings, brick walls, and original hardwood flooring are just the type of character that I can’t resist. However, the best part about the B&B is definitely the owners. Joseph & Jamie are so fun to talk to! They have such love for their family, town, and businesses. Like many people we met, they’re incredibly hard working. Owning a bakery seems glamorous but I know the long hours and hard work it takes to get things to taste like Jamie can! Steve ate the entire box of cookies they gave us himself. It was so great to get a glimpse into how they work together to make all of their Laurel businesses and projects come together in such a beautiful way.
Adam & Lily Trest of Adam Trest Home
Adam’s textiles had caught my eye on instagram long before I visited Laurel. I made sure to seek out the store when we got into town. Like many of the shops in Laurel, their beautiful storefront seemed to serve two purposes. To showcase their style and as a really great spot to hang out and talk with your friends. We were lucky enough to have a great long talk during our visit. I’m pretty picky ( like really picky ) about prints that I’d actually be willing to use in my own home. For me, Adam & Lily’s really shine. They bring the heritage and landmarks of Laurel into their design work in such a natural and timeless way. They even carry a bee print textile. You know from my own work how much I love bees!
Michael Foster ( honorary Laurel resident and kick butt tintype expert )
Michael lives outside of Laurel but I think its a safe bet to say if you asked anyone he’s got an honorary citizenship there. He is insanely talented in Tintype and Amber Plate Photography and is the most chill guy to talk with. His passion and knowledge of historic photography is remarkable and he always takes his time with the people he photographs. He says that the stories and characters behind each of his photos are his favorite thing about the process. It was clear that if he could spend all his days talking and taking photos of everyone he finds interesting it. would make him very happy. We think that’s pretty fantastic.
Alyson - Manager of Laurel Mercantile
Alyson is awesome. She was immediately welcoming and makes you feel at home. She gave recommendations for places to eat ( gf in small towns can be a challenge ) and greeted us like an old friend every time we saw her. If I didn’t live 1,000 miles away I would probably follow her around her until she agreed to be best friends or called the police, lol. Just kidding, I usually hide in my own house most days but if I did venture out to talk to someone Alyson would be at the top of the list. From all I could tell, she works insanely hard to make sure the whole Laurel team have their bases covered and things go smoothly. She's just one of those people who makes you feel like part of the team from the instant you show up.
Their are so many other amazing people doing big things in Laurel, too. Like the fantastic new Guild & Gentry, Laurel Leaf, and Lee’s Coffee & Tea. It really is like stepping into a great novel. Except the “characters” are real and so much better than could ever be made up. They partner with each other and work together. It seems that they all have a quiet understanding that doing so is how they’ll all help to give Laurel the comeback that it deserves. The main thing I experienced with all of them is that they are inclusive. They want everyone to join in and work together. They get people excited to take on new projects and challenges. At the end, I think that's one of the more important things to remember. We're all just same. We dream, live our daily lives, and fight to have those dreams come true. Working together makes those dreams a lot closer to reality than trying to go it alone. So get out there and collaborate. We're not each other's competition or source of entertainment. We are each other's greatest allies if we put in the hard work and allow it to be so.
We absolutely love our own little home town in New York. But now, there is a special spot dedicated to Laurel in our hearts as well.