11 Facts About Home Town's Josh Nowell

There is much to be said for the busy hands that do the bulk of their work behind the scenes, and Josh Nowell of HGTV's "Home Town" is an excellent example of quiet and efficient effort. Though viewers don't often see the man himself on the screen when enjoying their favorite episodes of "Home Town," you can bet that he is behind much of the woodwork that brings each renovation together. Nowell's skills often leave fans sighing in envy as they admire the handcrafted shelves and furniture, which bring so much charm and character to the finished product. The stars of the show, Ben and Erin Napier, credit the success of many of their work to Nowell and often recognize him for his diligent work ethic and project management skills. Though his woodworking achievements are awe-inspiring, his capabilities lie far beyond historic renovation work.

Nowell is also a community advocate and business owner with interests in multiple industries, and still, he manages to balance it all with wholesome home life and thriving friendships. Juggling one job and a family can be challenging enough, but Nowell seems to be managing his busy schedule admirably. 

Now that you have some background on the famed woodworker, here are some interesting facts you might not know about Josh Nowell.

Josh Nowell grew up in Laurel

Just like Erin Napier, Josh's hometown is Laurel, Mississippi.

Laurel is located within the state's Pine Belt — a region characterized by the towering and beautiful trees that thrive there. According to the United States Census Bureau, Laurel boasts a population of just about 17,000, which certainly qualifies it as a smaller town. A history of Laurel featured on its website explains that it was established in 1882 as a hub for lumber milling where the bountiful pine trees were processed and distributed via train. By the early years of 1900, the lumber milling industry in Laurel had become incredibly prolific. Understanding Laurel's long-standing love affair with wood products makes it easy to see why Josh Nowell became a skilled craftsman.

Laurel is full of the delightful scenery that characterizes the small-town life enjoyed by many Southern communities. Majestic oaks, magnolias, and crepe myrtles surround the town's historic buildings, including the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and Laurel City Hall. Its sentimental charm accounts for Nowell's passion for preserving its history through his work. His connection to the town runs so deep that, after his college career and first few years in the workforce, Josh and his wife returned to Laurel to raise their family and give back to the community he has always called home.

He has a passion for parenthood

Josh Nowell is a self-proclaimed family man who stated that being there for his kids is one of his highest priorities. He and his wife, Emily, have four children: Irene, Sam, Teddy, and Nora. In a Laurel Mercantile blog post, Nowell describes his delight in having such a large family, though he does not downplay the difficulty of raising his kids. In the post, he affectionately and analogically describes his children as different types of wood to explain their personalities.

He states that Sam, the oldest, is like a soft, flexible, pleasant-smelling cedar due to his accommodating nature and willingness to abide by instruction. Teddy, the second-oldest, reminds him of well-behaving pine. He clarifies that Teddy has occasional "knots," but says, "It's pretty easy to get back on track." His first daughter, Irene, is described as "spirited" and is assigned a hard, exotic specimen of wood or even petrified wood as her likeness.

Nowell says, "You try to put a blade on it, and it just grinds it out. You need a cutting torch to get through it, but man, it's beautiful when you finally get it to work with you." Finally, his youngest child, Nora, is described as a high-quality oak that is easygoing and agreeable.

Josh Nowell met his wife on a blind date

An interesting fact about Josh Nowell's relationship with his wife, Emily, is that the two met for the first time on a blind date. Soon after graduating from their respective universities (Josh from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Emily from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which is only about 40 minutes from Laurel), the pair bolstered their courage, met up without knowing anything about one another, and never looked back.

It was a lucky match. They dated for a few years before they married in 2010. Erin and Ben Napier were attendees at the event. Erin described their beautiful autumn wedding in a blog post on Laurel Mercantile, writing, "There was a fiddle and guitar during the ceremony playing traditional Irish tunes, Spanish moss hanging from the huge live oak trees, an immaculate pink 1957 Packard that drove Emily around to the aisle, tons of appley, caramelly goodness at the reception, and the most twitterpated lovey couple you can imagine." As a vintage car collector herself, Erin made sure to mention the impressive model featured on her friends' wedding day. 

The Nowells are currently enjoying their roles as husband and wife, parents, and friends, and constantly affirm that their relationship and family are of the utmost importance.

Josh Nowell met Ben Napier in college

Some fans might be wondering how Josh Nowell came to be part of the "Home Town" cast in the first place. The explanation is pretty simple: Nowell and Ben Napier are alumni of Ole Miss, and their friendship began during their time in Oxford in the early 2000s.

According to the Ole Miss fundraising website, Now & Ever, Napier and Nowell were roommates who became best friends during their university years. They found their time at Ole Miss to be so formative and impactful that they have found a few creative ways to give back to the institution that brought them together. Now & Ever dedicated a blog post to the entrepreneurs and their fellow co-owner Jim Rasberry and their mission to contribute to Ole Miss students' growth, development, and access to opportunities.

The trio's project included buying portions of the would-be discarded floorboards of the university's gymnasium to build a dining table featured on an episode of "Home Town." The post states that there was plenty of remaining wood from the project, so they began crafting kitchen serving boards to sell to Ole Miss and "Home Town" fans alike. The post states that the venture proceeds will benefit students in the university's School of Business Administration, the Patterson School of Accountancy, and the School of Engineering.

He had a thorough education

Though Josh Nowell received his bachelor's from the University of Mississippi, it was not the only institution for higher education he attended after graduating from high school in Laurel. Nowell's first stop in pursuit of his undergraduate degree was Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, which is about 8 miles south of his hometown.

JCJC, as it is called by Jones County students and residents, is a two-year institution of higher education that started in 1927 with only 26 college students, according to its official website. JCJC serves as the next educational stepping stone for many high school graduates of the Pine Belt. Erin and Ben Napier, as well as their associate, Jim Rasberry, attended the junior college as well.

After completing his time at Jones County Junior College, Nowell moved to Oxford to attend the University of Mississippi, which serves as the state's flagship university. He enrolled in the business school and continued his education as a business administration major. Nowell graduated in 2006 and later put the lessons he had learned throughout his schooling to use as he pursued business ventures with his wife, Emily, and his friends, Erin and Ben Napier, as well as Jim and Mallorie Rasberry. 

Becoming a part of the Home Town team

Josh Nowell and Ben Napier's mutual love for woodworking and entrepreneurship was kindled long before "Home Town" was even a sparkle in HGTV's eye, and a few years after graduating from Ole Miss, Nowell, Napier, and Rasberry launched Laurel Mercantile Co. with their wives, Emily, Erin, and Mallorie. They embarked on their mission to restore and preserve the town.

Nowell has been assisting Napier in woodworking projects since the company's founding, when they were working out of the back of the drugstore building the team had renovated in the early days of their business and restoration ventures.

It was only natural for Nowell to join the Napiers as a "Home Town" cast member. Though he isn't seen frequently in person on the show, his work is almost constantly featured. Nowell notes on Laurel Mercantile that his favorite build on the show was the cedar shelves built for the Moffett house, which was featured in Season 5. Nowell remarks upon the project in the same blog post, "It was a lot of work, but it ended up looking intentional like some tree spreading upward on the wall. That's kind of the joy of woodworking. You work towards a plan in your mind, but the wood may inspire you to go in a different direction."

Josh Nowell got his start in business

After graduating with his degree in business administration, Nowell got his start in business by developing his company, Petrolia Land Company, which is a real estate brokerage for oil and gas land services. He and his wife traveled around the country as landmen to assist in the logistical side of the oil and gas industry. Their services include confirming and reporting land ownership and acquiring oil and natural gas rights.

This start in business ownership set the tone for the Nowells' future success and displays the skills they utilized to assist the growth of the Laurel Mercantile Co. alongside their business partners. 

Although he is a skilled business owner, Nowell confesses that woodworking is one of his favorite aspects of his work within Laurel Mercantile Co. He states in the company's blog post that their responsibilities within the company are diverting and plentiful, so they can't always be woodworking, no matter how much he and his business partners would like to be. He writes, "Ben is usually filming 12 hours a day, and I'm generally working on business operations with our partner Jim Rasberry. Neither of us can be in the woodshop as much as we'd like."

His desire to restore Laurel

After those early years of marriage and traveling to accommodate their roles within Petrolia Land Company, the Nowells discovered that they were expecting the arrival of their first child. At that point, they decided a life on the road wasn't really what they had in mind for their growing family. They desired a stable, secure home surrounded by their loved ones, so they moved to Laurel. In their endeavor to make their mark on their forever home, they began purchasing and restoring historic properties in town, including their first family home, according to Laurel Mercantile Co. The couple writes, "These days, you'll find our fingerprint on several of the revitalized historic businesses in downtown Laurel, each of them breathing new life into our central business district."

Josh and Emily Nowell went about purchasing and repurposing properties in need of care and attention before the HGTV cameras hit the scene in Laurel. Armed with their experience and passion for beautifying and strengthening their hometown, the Nowells became indispensable members of the show from the very beginning.

To add to his seemingly ever-growing list of accolades, Josh Nowell also serves as the chair of the historic preservation commission in Laurel. He is also a recognized historic real estate developer in the town.

He's a Josh of all trades

From his successful business endeavors such as Petrolia Land Company and Laurel Mercantile Co. to his woodworking and project management skills, which earned him his recognition in "Home Town," to his community involvement and his role as a husband and father, Josh Nowell proves himself to be quite the Renaissance man.

Believe it or not, the above-mentioned roles are not all of what Nowell has on his plate. Nowell and Jim and Mallorie Rasberry have undertaken a campaign that brings their mission in Laurel to places around the country. Downtown Comeback is an educational opportunity created by the trio. Town leaders can learn from their experience to revitalize and strengthen community bonds and encourage economic development in cities and towns like Laurel. The founders of Downtown Comeback prove their qualifications by sharing the details of their roles within their community. The website also lists the titles of each member, and Nowell's list of responsibilities is anything but brief.

In addition to the titles already mentioned, he serves as a Laurel Main Street board member, co-owner of Laurel Mercantile, a Made in USA advocate, restaurateur, and entrepreneur. Imagine putting all of that on a résumé.

Josh Nowell is not much of a social media guy

As someone with so many accolades and camera-ready friends, it might be surprising to learn that Josh and Emily Nowell are not avid social media users. The couple's Instagram accounts, @joshuanowell and @ebnow, are private, and their followings on that platform are significantly smaller than those of the Napier and Rasberry families, who appear to be more active. The Nowells are decidedly more private than their friends and business partners. However, the Nowells are featured in photos and videos posted by their counterparts.

Josh Nowell appears to be a bit more prolific on Twitter, though most of his activity is reposting media shared by the Napiers, Rasberries, and their businesses.

The couple's social media practices seem to complement and contradict their hometown mission, as social media (in its purest form) is meant to keep people connected; however, in practice, social media can also serve as a distraction when engaging in fundamental, face-to-face interactions with others. The Nowells seem more concerned about engaging with their community in person than maintaining a substantial online presence. With the help of their business partners and the accounts dedicated to their businesses, the Nowells can keep their personal social media presence as private as possible while still making their professional presence known.  

Josh and Emily Nowell's real estate sparked the mission

It would be incredibly challenging to renovate, restore, and revitalize an area without having the right to make the changes you envisioned. In an article published by Southern Living, Erin Napier explains that the journey of sparking interest in Laurel's downtown area began because Josh Nowell was in possession of the real estate they would work with. "Josh had done some real estate development. He had a bird's-eye view. ... I would take photos of a corner downtown that people might overlook. I kept a journal online, and I mocked up some murals in Photoshop. We put some lights in the trees and had these potluck parties and invited our friends from Hattiesburg. We were just like, 'Yeah, Laurel's a cool place — you didn't know?'"

After finally having all the pieces of the puzzle, the team of couples embarked on their journey to place a dazzling spotlight on the small town right off I-59 that travelers might miss if they blinked, and the results, according to fans of "Home Town," have been well worth the effort.