Art educator, painter and, now, business owner Lauren Duncan's ties to the Auburn community go back generations.
Inside her shop, THE locAL Market, the walls are covered with creations from makers across Alabama and the tables are lined with local honey, jams and homemade jewelry.
It had been a dream of Duncan's to show off the creators of the town she and her family have loved for years.
"I grew up in Auburn; my parents are from here and so are my grandparents," Duncan said. "My grandmother was actually Miss Auburn, so we have a long-standing heritage here in Auburn."
Duncan graduated from Auburn with a bachelor's degree in fine arts before moving on to graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she received her master's in art education.
"I went and visited other colleges, but everywhere I went none of them measured up to the feeling I had about this place (Auburn University)," Duncan said.
Throughout her time in college, Duncan said she changed her major multiple times but ended up pursuing what she loved most: art.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
"I love painting; I have my whole life," Duncan said. "I mainly enjoy painting still life, and I also paint scripture."
Duncan said her spirituality influences most of her work.
"I call my paintings my prayers," she said. "The last couple of years have been hard, and painting has very much been my therapy and my outlet."
Duncan said she views painting as a time where she can both be working and allow her mind to be still and talk to the Lord.
"I feel like it is reflected in my work too," Duncan said.
It wasn't until her senior year when she realized teaching went alongside that love.
"I was kind of aimless," she said. "I loved art, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with that. So, my senior year I did an independent study with Chi-Chi Lovett about art education."
Through her independent study, Duncan worked with at-risk youth programs. It was there, she said, when she realized she loved teaching.
After graduate school, she began working as an art teacher at Auburn High School. After nine years of teaching, she decided it was time for a change, and THE locAL Market provided her with that.
Along with selling goods from local makers, Duncan also offers classes available to the community where they can learn painting, pickling, calligraphy and more.
"I used some of the same passions I used then in what I'm doing now with THE locAL Market by encouraging people to create and connecting them," Duncan said.
Duncan said she hopes for the community to eventually view THE locAL Market as an integral part of downtown.
"I wanted the community to have the whole 'meet the maker' experience, and I just love that," Duncan said. "Being in Auburn, I know some of the artists and the farmers, but I always wondered why there wasn't a place where I could shop for local art or honey. Why wasn't there a retail store that had all of these local treasures?"
The feedback from her friends and family and the community overall she said has been amazing.
"A lot of people tell me this is something Auburn has needed for a long time and that it is a great thing for the town, and I love to hear that," she said. "Especially because I love Auburn so much and because of my family ties here."
Duncan said it makes her very proud to be identified as a successful Auburn woman.
"It makes me think of how proud my grandmother would be if she saw this," she said. "I'm excited to see what the future will bring."
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman