Joseph and Abby Braswell met each other in junior high school — but as with many great love stories, they started off as good friends. The Mountain Brook natives each attended the University of Alabama, keeping in touch during their collegiate years and moving back home afterward, at which point they decided to date. At that time, Abby was beginning a busy career in media, initially working for About Town Magazine and then for Flower Magazine, while Joseph stepped into his new role in his family’s business, Guin Service LLC.
Joseph’s grandfather was “partially retired,” he said, and asked his grandson to help modernize the business and implement a few new marketing strategies. “I would bounce my ideas off of Abby,” Joseph remembered. “I asked, if you were at home and a technician came by, what things would be important to you? We discovered it’s about those little things as much as it is the AC and plumbing – and if we can accomplish both together, we stand out.”
Today, the “little things” continue to matter to the Braswell family, who live in Birmingham’s Crestline neighborhood and cherish the area for its beauty and walkability. Now with two children, Joseph and Abby look forward to a few much-needed renovations on their charming 1940s home, which featured in Southern Living magazine and was furnished by renowned Birmingham designer Fran Keenan. Renovation plans include an extra bed and bath to serve as a play space for 4-year-old Sallie and 1-year-old William, plus the addition of a screened-in porch for Joseph to “cook and watch football.” Other updates will include new hardware, doors and windows and a fresh coat of paint — but everything will “keep the home’s 1940s feeling and mood,” they assured me.
The couple enjoys hosting extended family during the Christmas holidays, with Joseph candidly remarking, “Santa comes to our house — so if you want to be a part of that, you can come to our house!” While some families might feel like hosting Christmas is an overwhelming task, the Braswells take great joy in it. Abby loves to festively decorate the home, and Joseph prepares a brisket or beef tenderloin on the smoker, inviting guests to bring accompanying sides or desserts for an indulgent late lunch. “We wake up, open our gifts, have a late lunch, and then everyone scatters back to their homes for a nap,” Joseph laughed.
In addition to their personal holiday celebrations, Joseph values giving back through Guin Service each year with a United Way campaign — he matches “whatever the employees raise, and has seen 100% participation for the last few years." The entire Guin team also celebrates the season with a big potluck holiday party the week before Christmas. “We always have it a solid week beforehand, and there’s so much food, we have food for the whole week,” Joseph said, smiling.
This year, the Braswells are looking forward to dressing up and going in person to the traditional Christmas eve service at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, where Joseph’s family has attended “forever” — but they admitted they also enjoyed cozying up and watching online during the pandemic. “Last year, we watched the service in our pajamas,” Joseph said, “and I thought, this isn’t so bad — I don’t even need a suit and tie!”