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Community Highlights: Meet Lauryn Colatuno-Stroud of Raleigh Night Market and Grazin’ Gals

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauryn Colatuno-Stroud.

Lauryn, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up in the Raleigh area but moved away after college to pursue a film production career in Los Angeles. In my career stint through Hollywood, I produced TV pieces for The History Channel, Spike TV, Animal Planet and worked on A&E Biographies on Steve Martin, Paula Abdul, Heather Locklear & Bruce Willis. I loved every bit of the production process but mostly, the logistical aspects and planning brought me the most joy. After three years living the Hollywood life, I was ready to head back to beautiful NC. I worked for six years making local commercials in the Charlotte area and got really involved in my community. The Yelp Elite squad had just started in Charlotte and I could not wait to be a part of it. The Yelp community was everything I was looking for, it was the first time I felt like I found a group of people who I really fit in with right away. We all shared the same passion for community, food, events and exploring our cities!! When the community manager position opened up for Yelp, I was ready, this was my absolute dream job and I wanted it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the position and was so bummed but I kept being active in the community and learning all I could about social media. At this time, everything was about Twitter and Facebook and the position of “social media manager” never event existed. This is where my side-hustle “career” started. I picked up a PT gig with a local recruiter managing his social media and writing blog posts, I worked with him for years building his followers and creating content, I couldn’t believe this was a real job???

Finally, the side hustling paid off and the Yelp community manager job opened up in my hometown of Raleigh. I immediately contacted the hiring manager I originally interviewed with for Charlotte and we met at the Sheraton in downtown Raleigh for a few minutes and the job was mine. For the three years I was with Yelp, I grew an incredible community of foodies and adventure seekers. I hosted and organized small and large-scale events monthly and helped hundreds of small business owners with their online reviews. Yelp paved the way for my event career and social media consulting business.

I left Yelp for a career opportunity that didn’t pan out as expected but that leads me into a real entrepreneurship role. I picked up multiple clients from restaurants to real estate and managed social media campaigns and marketing. My video production background came in handy big time with content creation and everyone was looking for help with reputation management online, thank you, Yelp!! I was familiar with the freelance life after living in LA and always loved that I could use my skillsets for multiple side jobs instead of being stuck at a desk from 9-5 being pigeonholed into one specific role. But I was still fearful of going all out on my own, so I took another corporate job in the fitness industry as and event marketing manager. This was the first career title that I thought actually made sense to me, it brought all my passions together, event planning, content creation, and building a community. During this time, I became a certified pilates instructor and immersed myself into to the fitness life. I really missed the big events that I hosted for Yelp and had recently returned from a trip to Europe. While traveling, I discovered that every destination we visited in Europe had these amazing markets that local folks shopped at, I was especially interested in the nighttime markets and how people came together to eat, drink, shop and enjoy live music. I began exploring these night markets everywhere. I was approached about a position at a mixed historic retail space called City Market to activate events. That’s how the Raleigh Night Market got started in 2018. My business partner Sara Buxton and I hosted our first market in August of 2018 and we could have never anticipated the crowd that showed up. In just a few months, over six thousand people were roaming the streets of City Market enjoying everything I loved about the markets I explored in Europe. We had over 100 vendors, LED performances, Uke Jams, drum circles, acapella groups, marching bands and so much more. You just never knew what you were going to find at the night market and that’s what makes it so special. It’s about supporting local businesses and our community. And I knew at that moment I would never sit at a 9-5 desk job again.

When the pandemic hit, it devastated the night market business. I had just quit all my side hustles to really focus on growing the markets and boom, the world shut down. I found myself completely lost and starting over from scratch once again. I questioned everything about being a small business owner, I really wanted to give up. But the community needed us and cheered us on. We pivoted to a virtual events for a few months and worked on giving back to our essential workers. But it wasn’t enough and I needed a paycheck. In July of 2020, with my childhood best friend, Erin Riddick, we started a local charcuterie board business called Grazin’ Gals. We didn’t have a clue about how to run a food business but I’m happy to say a year later, our business is booming. Food design filled the creative outlet I so much needed last year and hosting classes and catering weddings has been just another way to organize events in such a fun way.

I am happy to say as of today both of my businesses are doing great and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. We have over 50 markets planned all over the NC Triangle area this year for night market and we just hired our first staff member for Grazin’ Gals!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Being a small business owner is never easy. I find the biggest struggle as a business owner to be finding the time to do everything. I feel so blessed to have such amazing growth in both my businesses but with growth comes a lot of headaches and decision making. We have hired our first employees this year for night market and Grazin’ Gals, finding time to train everyone while operating the day-to-day has been tough, but having the right team members is so important to our growth and it’s so exciting to see how far we’ve come. I never thought I’d be managing one now two businesses at the same time, I’ve been taking a lot of advice from my mentors and fellow small business owners. Though the road is never smooth, it’s always worth it. Waking up everyday doing what you love is the best gift in the world, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The Raleigh Night Market is a monthly festival held at Moore Square every 3rd Thursday through November from 5 – 9 PM. In August, we will be launching our Durham Night Market at American Tobacco every 4th Thursday through November from 5 – 9 PM, the Apex Night Market on the 2nd Thursday through November from 5 – 9 PM, Brunch Moore Market every 2nd Sunday in Moore Square from 11 AM – 3 PM, and we just announced several new markets this year, Hartwell Raleigh (morning markets and happy hour markets, Garner Night Market, The Raleigh Night Market at Smoky Hollow. We’ll also be hosting a holiday market at Moore Square for five weekends starting Nov. 19th – Dec. 18th. We have over 50 pop-up events this year!! We love to curate pop-up markets for other festivals, local breweries and venues. In the future, we plan on taking the night market on the road and popping up in other cities in NC and SC.

There really has never been anything like the night market here in Raleigh and we love that people now travel near and far to come visit, it’s becoming the thing to do in Raleigh and that brings me so much joy. We are so much more than just an artisan market, it’s really an experience that can’t be missed and all are welcome!! You’ll find a mix of pottery, handmade soaps, jewelry, clothing, baked goods and so much more. We encourage all local artisans to apply. We are a juried event and we look through each application carefully to bring the best products to the market. We encourage new artisans to apply and love watching these businesses grow along with us.

Grazin’ Gals is an upscale charcuterie board business that offers a variety of boxes and boards, grazing tables and sweet treats. We offer delivery around the Raleigh area as well as pick-up spots all over the Triangle area.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
Raleigh and Durham has just been named the 2nd best place to live in the US and for good reason. As someone who grew up here, it’s the most exciting time to live in this city. I’ve witnessed the amazing growth and after living in many other big cities, I just can’t wait to see what’s next for Raleigh. We are becoming a foodie destination and have so much to offer for big events and festivals. Raleigh has become so much more diverse and is getting more of that big city feel. We have incredible greenways, lakes, parks, the beach less than 2 hours away and the mountains 3 hours away, I can’t think of a better place to live.


  • Vendor Pricing for night markets $80 admission is FREE
  • Grazin’ Gals our small boxes start at $20 and our boards start at $75

Contact Info:

Image Credits
@gloryrozephotography – image of me with charcuterie board (1st photo uploaded not the group photos) @theamandabittner – LED stilt walker photo

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